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Washington, D. C., 1912 

To Freedom 



With Four Portraits of 


and a picture of 

The Bahd'i House 

of Worship 

Issued in Commemoration of the 

25th Anniversary of 'Abdu'l-Baha's 

Visit to the United States of America 

April to December, 1912 

New York 





The Grandson of 

By Him Appointed 
Guardian of the Baha'i Faith 


Head of the International 
House of Justice 

This book is lovingly dedicated 












Retrospect. Spiritual Bankruptcy. A Dawn- 
ing Hope. The Golden Silence 1 8 

The Glance that saved the World. A Divine 
Sincerity. The Masterly Teaching Method. 


True Wealth, Power and Freedom. The 
Table of 'Abdu'1-Baha. Very Great Things. 
"Are you interested in Renunciation?" . . 50 

The Attraction of Perfection. The Boys 
from the Bowery. A Black Rose and a 
Black Sweet 60 

A Leaf in the Breeze of the Will of God. 
"My Throne is My Mat." Inscription in 
"The Seven Valleys." 69 

The Reality and Essence of Brotherhood. 
"Cannot you serve him Once?" True 
Brotherhood due to the Breaths of the Holy 
Spirit. "O, you should have Seen Him!" . 80 

An Eternal Bond. The Wedding. The need 
for Reformation of Laws pertaining to Di- 
vorce. The Laws of Baha'U'llah. Four 
Kinds of Love. The Children of the New 
Day 92 

"The Most Perfect Gentleman I have ever 
known." The Master Teacher. The Spir- 
itual Warrior. A Fable. "It behooves you 
to manifest Light." The Gift. The First 
Tablet 114 


Table of Contents 





The American Itinerary. The Power of 
the Spirit. "Her Highness the Cow." True 
Greatness. The Divine Teaching Method. 132 

The Universe of Baha'U'llah. The Evolu- 
tion of Man. The Glory of Self-sacrifice. 


Chapter Instruction in the Way of Life. What is 
Eleven Authority? The Science of the Love of 

God. .' 167 

Chapter The New World Order. A Divine Civili- 
Tivelve zation. The Kingdom of God on Earth. . 175 

Chapter Some Divine Characteristics. The Humil- 
Thlrteen ity of Servitude. The Station of True Man- 
hood 192 

Chapter 'Abdu'l-Baha's Last Words in America. 

Fourteen Seven Distinctive Characteristics of the 
Teachings. Evidences of the New World 
Order 211 

Chapter By their Fruits shall ye know them. Four 
Fifteen Tablets 229 

Chapter Conclusion 250 




Facing Page 84 



Facing Page 190 


Facing Page 211 


Facing Page 248 

To Freedom 


"I ask Thee, O Ruler of Existence and King of Creation, 
to transmute the brass of existence into gold by the elixir 
of Thy Revelation and Wisdom: then reveal unto men 
by a comprehensive Book that which will enrich them 
by Thy Riches." 


WHAT is that mystery underlying human life 
which gives to events and to persons the power 
of mutation, of transformation? If one had never before 
seen a seed, nor heard of its latent life, how difficult to 
believe that only the cold earth, the warm sun, the 
descending showers and the gardener's care were needed 
to cause its miraculous transformation into the growing 
form, the budding beauty, the intoxicating fragrance of 
the rose! 

Or who can understand the reason why a chance 
perusal of a book, the presence of a friend or the meeting 
with a stranger often alters a determined course of action, 
profoundly affects our attitude toward life, and, not 
seldom, so nearly reaches the roots of being and the 
springs of action that never after is life quite the same? 

It is as if some super-Luther Burbank had, by that 


14 Portals To Freedom 

seemingly chance event, grafted into the branch of 
our crab-apple being the bud of the Tree of Knowl- 
edge, or into the bramble of the wilderness of human 
thought the rose of paradise. 

To this mystery of mysteries the philosophy of the 
schoolmen off ers no adequate explanation. We only know 
that it is a common experience of us all. The effort to- 
wards the description of this catalysis is the essence of 
all poetry; the abortive attempt to explain it is at the root 
of all philosophy, while the experience of it is the one 
cause underlying the transformation of human life and 
character. All history is its witness and every saint its 

In offering to the reader this inadequate account of one 
such experience my only excuse is its totality, its all- 
inclusiveness, its grandeur. It is unique not because it is 
rare, since every contact of man with his fellow men 
demonstrates it, but because of its supremacy over other 
transforming contacts. One might liken it to the dif- 
ference in effect between touching a cold clod and the 
grasping of a galvanic battery: or the meeting with a 
debased criminal and the meeting with an Abraham 

To those who met 'Abdu'1-Baha in the summer of 
1912, when He spent eight months in this country, such 
comparisons will seem highly inadequate. While to many 
that meeting did not convey more than a contact with 
personified dignity, beauty, wisdom and selflessness, and 
so led them, at least, to higher altitudes of thought and 
life, to hundreds of others that meeting was the door to 

Introduction 1 5 

undreamed-of worlds; to a new, a boundless, an eternal 

We realize the difficulties faced in attempting to bring 
to the reader a quarter of a century later, the atmos- 
phere created by this meeting for those who had the 
eyes to see, the ears to hear and minds to comprehend, 
even slightly, the new and divine world opened before 
the eager and courageous feet. In fact to do so with any 
degree of accurate completeness is all but impossible. To 
those bred in the Christian tradition one might ask what 
would be the probable effect upon them if they could 
have been among the audience when the Sermon on the 
Mount was spoken, or if one of them, like John, could 
have reclined upon the breast of the Master. Without 
daring to suggest that the comparison is parallel, my own 
experience, when brought into close association with 
'Abdu'1-Baha, was so overwhelming, so fraught with sen- 
sations suggesting an entrance into a new and super- 
mundane world, that I can think of no other comparison 
more adequate. 

I do not propose in relating these experiences to mini- 
mize my own reaction to this great experience by present- 
ing it with even the slightest suggestion of materialistic 
or pseudo-scientific explanations. It is my work to report 
as faithfully as possible what I saw and heard and experi- 
enced during these meetings and conversations. If at times 
the recounting flavors of a fancy bordering on the 
fantastic I may comfort myself with reflection on the 
possible terms applied to Peter, James and John, the fisher- 
men, when they attempted to describe to their fellow 

1 6 Portals To Freedom 

laborers the effect which the Master's Presence had upon 
them. What epithets must the former lovers and associates 
of Mary Magdalene have applied to her! 

To me, a man of middle age, a Unitarian Clergyman, 
a student since youth of religions and philosophies, the 
experience had a disturbing quality somewhat cataclysmic. 
Why should this man be able so to upset all my pre- 
conceived notions and conceptions of values by His mere 
presence? Was it that He seemed to exude from His very 
being an atmosphere of love and understanding such as I 
had never dreamed? Was it the resonant voice, modu- 
lated to a music which caught the heart? Was it the aura 
of happiness touched at times with a sadness implying the 
bearing of the burden of all the sin and sorrow of the 
world, which always surrounded Him? Was it the com- 
mingled majesty and humility of His every gesture and 
word, which was perhaps His most obvious characteristic? 
How can one answer such questions? Those who saw and 
heard 'Abdu'1-Baha during those memorable months will 
share with me the sense of the inadequacy of words to 
communicate the incommunicable. 

At the time I met 'Abdu'1-Baha, in the Spring of 1912, 
He was sixty-eight years of age. Of these, twelve years 
had been spent in exile with His spiritual as well as physical 
Father, Baha'U'llah, in Bagdad, Constantinople and 
Adrianople. Then forty years, to a day, in the Turkish 
prison-fortress of 'Akka, ten miles from Mt. Carmel, on 
the coast of Palestine. Because of their staunch adherence 
to their faith in Baha'U'llah as the Manifestation of God, 

Introduction 1 7 

'Abdu'1-Baha with about seventy others had sacrificed all 
that they had, preferring imprisonment and inward free- 
dom with Him to outward freedom and spiritual bondage 
without Him. With the overthrow of the tyrannous reign 
of 'Abdu'l Hamid, by the Young Turk Party in 1908, 
this long exile and imprisonment ended and that Voice 
and Presence was free to prove to the world what He had 
so completely demonstrated, that "The only prison is the 
prison of self." 

To what marvellous inner life of the spirit could be 
ascribed, I asked myself, the fact that this man, born of 
a long line of Persian nobility; accustomed to every luxury 
until his eighth year; followed by a half -century of exile, 
torture and prison life, could emerge into the modern 
world of Paris, London and New York and dominate 
every experience with a calm control of circumstance; a 
clarifying exposure of superficialities; a joyous love for 
all humanity which never condemned but with forgive- 
ness brought shame? 

It is with the hope that, to a degree, the following pages 
may approach an answer to this question that they are 
offered to the reader. 

1 8 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter One 


"O friend! The heart is a store of divine mysteries, make 
it not a receptacle for mortal thoughts, and consume not 
the capital of thy precious life by occupying thyself with 
this evanescent world. Thou art of the world of Holiness, 
attach not thy heart unto the earth. Thou art a denizen of 
the Court of Nearness, choose not an earthly home." 

Seven Valleys: Baha'U'llah. 

MY life divides itself, in retrospect, sharply in two. 
The years before I met 'Abdu'1-Baha look to me 
now much as the ten-year-old child might be imagined to 
regard his matrix life, assuming him capable of that keen 
vision. The comparison is apt, also, from another angle; 
for, just as a child of ten has still before him experiences 
of vast and unimagined heights and depths, splendor and 
shadow, so I, the twenty-five year old youth of the spirit, 
look back, indeed, upon the forty-six years of gestation, 
recognizing the fact of that necessity if birth were to 
occur, but beyond that fact knowing little or nothing of 

Portals To Freedom 1 9 

the trivial causes which could lead to such effects. How 
much less, then, is it possible to estimate the future of the 
twice-born soul throughout unimaginable ages of life in 
all the worlds of God. If the wood in which the earthly 
sap flows briskly still is capable of such a flame, how 
great the conflagration when, freed from the laws of the 
world of nature, the fire kindled from the Sinaitic Tree 
becomes ablaze! Truly, birth of the body is a great event 
but, compared with the second birth, the first is only a 
feeble significance. 

The Fall and Winter of 191 1-12 is a period marked in 
my memory as months of great unhappiness. Life, in all 
that composed its deepest values, seemed to have left me 
high and dry on the banks of its swiftly-flowing stream. 
Outwardly all was well but that inward voice that adds, 
"All is well indeed,'' was silent. I know of no greater 
disappointment, no more terrible depression than that 
which comes to the sincere soul who, seeking God, finds 
Him not. 

For many years I had found myself unable to accept 
the conventional connotations of such words as God, 
Faith, Heaven, Hell, Prayer, Christ, Eternal Life, and 
others of so-called religious significance. In very early 
manhood I had come to grips with the goblins of super- 
stition masquerading as churchly creeds and had cast them 
out, but no satisfying, spirit-lifting convictions had come 
to take their places. Perhaps for ten years my thought life 
was frankly and positively agnostic. But these were great 
years nevertheless, for they were portals to freedom. But, 
alas, that freedom had failed to bring peace. I began to 

20 Portals To Freedom 

suspect that freedom without a guide and teacher fell 
little short of anarchy. True, I still had the teachings and 
life of Jesus of Nazareth, and never had I failed in love 
for them. But I failed wofully in the practice of them. 
And even a casual glance at the lives around me and the 
civilization men called "Christian," convinced me that so 
far as any practical parallel between words and deeds 
were concerned there were few, if any, Christians in 
the world, and certainly no expressions of social, economic 
and national life worthy of such a name. Besides this 
objective fact, impossible to evade or deny, I was con- 
fronted by the even greater difficulty of the confused 
thought life created by years of scientific, philosophical 
and theological study and reading. In all these cross cur- 
rents of human speculation my frail skiff had all it could 
do to keep afloat and the struggling oarsman little hope 
of finding his desired haven by following any one of them. 

One day I found in the library of a village rector, where 
we were spending a summer's vacation, a volume of the 
works of William Ellery Charming. His sermon on the 
occasion of the ordination of Jared Sparks in Baltimore 
in 1 844 opened a new horizon. Perhaps one could be free 
and yet have a guide freely chosen! Thus began a period 
of about fifteen years of so-called liberal study, thought 
and preaching which, on the whole, cannot be said to have 
been fruitless years for work was sincerely done and 
doubtless, necessary lessons learned. But measured by 
those inner standards which from boyhood had subcon- 
sciously been cultivated, these were barren years. 

Was this to be the fruit of mystic dreams, of God- 

Portals To Freedom 2 1 

ward yearnings, of passionate longings to aid just a little 
in the uplift of sorrowing humanity around me? To 
preach once a week; duly to make my parish round of 
calls on elderly spinsters and the sick to whom my visits 
were simply what I was paid to give; to build churches 
to hold a handful of people; never to forget the collection, 
for which lapse of memory my treasurer was always 
scolding me, and to fill in odd hours with reading of the 
latest modern philosophy in order to pass it on to my 
unsuspecting congregation with appropriate annotations, 
did this round of living contain the germs of that 
"Truth for which man ought to die"? Was it my own 
fault that I had missed the point and was I a fool in that 
I could not adjust myself to that definition of success 
which found its goal in a wealthy congregation, the 
whispered, "That was a mighty fine sermon," the 
annually increasing salary? 

Well, anyway, suffice it to say I was desperately un- 
happy. I had tried the orthodox scheme; I had tried to 
sail the uncharted sea of "I don't know"; I had tried the 
"Liberal Faith" and I found myself approaching spiritual 
bankruptcy. A balancing of Life's books showed me in 
debt to God and Man. It had not yet begun to dawn upon 
me that to be recreant to either was to be in arrears with 
both, and that spiritual insolvency is assured when free- 
dom of the mind is assumed to mean liberty to follow 
every will-o-the-wisp of human philosophy. 

It was in October of 1911 when there came to me 
those first stirrings of influences which were to change 
the course of my life. I picked up a copy of Everybody's 

22 f artafo To Freedom 

Magazine from a casual bookstall and found therein a 
rather complete article concerning 'Abdu'l-BaM and His 
projected visit to America. I shall never forget the thrill 
this somewhat commonplace story gave me common- 
place, I mean, in comparison with the reality of that 
story as future months were to unfold it to me. Again 
I heard the inner voice which since very early youth has 
come to me again and again: "Come along up." I read 
and re-read the story. Here was a Man who had indeed 
found a Truth for which He was not only willing to die 
but had died, a thing death covering almost sixty years of 
torture, banishment and imprisonment, and who had seen 
many thousands of His followers willingly and joyfully 
face a martyr's death. And above all O happy marvel! 
here was a man who placed money where it belonged, 
beneath His feet. He never took up a collection! 

. I read and re-read that glorious and tragic story and 
filed it in my voluminous twenty-five volume scrap-book. 
There may have been a vague purpose in my mind of 
making that story the background of a sermon some day. 
To such human uses do we often put the skyey glimpses 
God vouchsafes us. Which is well; or would be if those 
celestial visions found utterance in our lives as well as 
through our lips. 

It may have been an indication of my spiritual unrest 
and sense of frustration that had prompted me some 
months before to organize in Jersey City what we called 
The Brotherhood Church. It had no affiliation with my 
regular denominational work. No salary was attached to 
its service. It tried to be in fact what its name indicated: 
a group of brothers of the spirit aiming to express their 

Portals To Freedom 23 

highest ideals in service to struggling humanity. Our 
meetings were held in a large Masonic Hall every Sunday 
evening, since my suburban church held services only in 
the morning. How little one can estimate the great re- 
sults that may flow from even slight eff orts undertaken 
in a sincere spirit of service. It is hardly too much to say 
that had not this Church of Brotherhood (as 'Abdul- 
Bahd later called it) been inaugurated and carried on 
for a few brief months, the Sun of Reality might not 
have risen for me for many years, if ever, upon this little 

For one of the members of the Board of Trustees was 
a man whom I had grown to respect and love deeply. 
His health was none too good and he suffered, at intervals 
all too short, from blinding headaches, indicating a 
pathological condition which, a few months later, carried 
him from this world. His nature was one of the humblest 
and sweetest I have ever known. None was too lowly or 
too poor to be denied his understanding love; none too 
casual an acquaintance to make him hesitate to seek to 
find and touch with healing art, the hidden springs of 
sorrow and distress which all conceal. His tact seemed 
never failing and his faith in human greatness boundless. 
He had no money, or little, to give. He had more, the 
key of universal love which unlocks every heart. 

This friend, Mr. Clarence Moore, came to me one Sun- 
day evening just before the service was to begin and 
handed me some notes, saying: "I am not feeling well 
enough to stay this evening for I am very tired with some 
work I have been doing and in connection with which I 
want to ask your assistance." "How can I help?" I said. 

"Well," he responded, "you know I have been to some 

extent interested in a world-wide movement which seems 
to have great spiritual and social significance. Friends of 
mine have found in it much of value and inspiration which 
so far have seemed too high and deep for me to fathom 
and explore. It occurred to me that your knowledge and 
experience in such matters might assist me to a more just 
appreciation. So, this afternoon I attended one of the 
meetings of this group in New York and made some 
rather full notes with the idea of submitting them to you 
for your criticism and opinion." x 

I was dubious. There was no connection in my mind 
between this request and the magazine article I had lately 
read, and I hesitated more than a little. Oriental cults, 
Eastern philosophies, and the queer, supposedly idealistic 
movements of which there are so many, had never ap- 
pealed to me. But, of course, I thanked him and on my 
way home in the train that night I studied his notes care- 
fully. Interesting, I thought, heart-stirring a little, but that 
was about all except that I looked forward to further dis- 
cussion of them with my friend. 

Within a few days the mail brought to me an invitation 
to attend a "BaM'f Meeting" in New York at which a 
woman from London, England, was to speak. At once I 
connected this with my friend and his notes. He had evi- 
dently given my name to someone and with this result. 
I was disturbed. I had no desire to be drawn into any 
movement or interest which might distract my attention 
from my legitimate work. I was on the point of throwing 

I 1 came to know much later that this was just his characteristically 
humble and tactful way of enlisting my attention. He had long loved 
die teachings and his daily life was their application. 

Freedom 25 

the card into the waste paper basket. Only the thought 
of Clarence, his selfless service, his friendship and love, 
deterred me. I could not refuse his request that I in- 

So I went although it entailed an evening wasted, as 
I thought, and a mid-night return to my home which, in 
my then state of health, was a not inconsiderable hard- 
ship. How slight the occasion upon which often hang 
great and vital issues! Suppose that I had refused to go! 
Nay, suppose that Clarence had allowed his physical 
weakness, his need of rest that Sunday afternoon, to 
weigh too heavily against his desire to serve; if the material 
had overbalanced the spiritual in his mind that day I 
probably would not be writing these words twenty-five 
years later. Indeed, Sir Launfal to the contrary notwith- 
standing, Heaven is not given away, God cannot be had 
for the asking unless with that asking goes all that one has. 

I do not remember much of what happened at the 
meeting my first Baha'i meeting. There were readings 
of beautiful prayers, and I had a slight feeling of regret 
that they had to use a book. The friend from London 
talked, but nothing of what she said remains. No hymns, 
none of the religious trappings I had been accustomed to: 
but there was a spirit that attracted my heart. So when 
the meeting was over I asked the speaker if she could 
recommend someone who would come over to Jersey 
City and tell the story to my people. She introduced me 
to the chairman of the meeting, Mr. Mountf ort Mills, who, 
within a week or two, did give a talk in the Brotherhood 
Church. I remember his subject was The Divine Spring- 
time. One of my people sitting in front of me, for I sat in 

z6 Partafo To Freedom 

the audience during the address, seemed enthralled. She 
turned to me as we all rose to leave and said in a hushed 
voice: "There, indeed, is a man! " Her succeeding remarks 
indicated her meaning: A feeling of awe for the speaker 
and his subject. "If we could only be sure it were all true," 
she concluded. 

Then began a period of about three months upon which 
I now look back as the most remarkable of my life. The 
Divine Voice calling from on high seemed constantly ring- 
ing in my ears. Not that I was at all convinced of the 
truth underlying what I heard on every hand. In fact I 
did not understand half of what most of these people 
talked about. Sometimes I was definitely repelled and 
would try to put it all out of my mind. But it was no use. 
My heart was in a turmoil and yet incredibly attracted. 
The chairman, who had given the address in the Brother- 
hood Church, devoted much time to me, 'why I was at a 
loss to understand. At his home I met several of the 
Baha'f friends. And here I received my first copy of The 
Seven Valleys by Baha'U'llah. I read it on my way home 
that night and it stirred me beyond measure. Not one 
word in ten did I understand but doors seemed to be open- 
ing before me. It was like a leit motif from a heavenly 
opus of which the theme could not be guessed. Certain 
passages struck my heart like paeans from angelic choirs. 
Even The Hidden Words, by Baha'U'llah, given me a 
few days before, did not approach the core of my being 
as did this. 

I began going over almost weekly to meetings in New 
York. I met more of the "friends" as I heard them desig- 

Portals To Freedom 27 

nated. They certainly expressed a type of friendship new 
to me. I bought all the books I could find and read, read, 
read constantly. I could hardly think of anything else. It 
reflected in my sermons so that my people remarked and 
spoke of it. Always I had written my sermons, rather 
priding myself on style and ratiocination. Suddenly that 
all dropped away. I found myself going into the pulpit 
with only the preparation of prayer and meditation. And 
what a new meaning began to attach itself to this word 
prayer! I had always prayed after a fashion, but since 
religion had become a "profession," public prayer pulpit 
prayer had to a great extent displaced personal devo- 
tions. I began vaguely to understand what communion 
might mean. 

But I was not happy. Strange to say I was more un- 
happy than ever. It seemed as though the very roots of 
my being were rent asunder. Perhaps, I thought, when 
'Abdu'1-Baha arrives He will be able to calm my restless 
soul. Certainly none of the proponents of His cause could 
do it. I had tried them all. 

One day I was walking with Mountfort near his home 
on West End Ave. It was in February and the winter 
winds were chill. We walked briskly talking of the ever 
enthralling subject, 'Abdu'l-Baha's approaching visit; 
what He looked like; what effect His meeting had on 
souls; stories of contacts with Him in 'Akka and Paris. 
Impulsively I said: 

"When 'Abdu'1-Baha arrives I would like very much 
to have a talk with Him alone, without even an inter- 

28 Portals To Freedom 

He smiled sympathetically but remarked: 

"I fear you couldn't get very far without an interpreter, 
for 'Abdu'1-Baha speaks little English and you, I imagine, 
less Persian." 

I would not be dissuaded. "If He at all approaches in 
spiritual discernment what I hear and read of Him," I 
said, "we would get closer together, and I might have a 
better chance of understanding, even if no words were 
spoken. I am very tired of words," I concluded rather 

This was about six weeks before 'Abdu'1-Baha came, 
two months perhaps. We never referred to the subject 
again nor did Mountfort speak of my wish to anyone, as 
he afterwards assured me. 

Finally the day arrived. I did not go to the steamship 
wharf to meet Him but I did make an effort to get at 
least a glimpse of Him at a gathering specially arranged 
for Him at the home of Baha'i friends. A glimpse was all 
I succeeded in getting. The press of eager friends and 
curious ones was so great that it was difficult even to get 
inside the doors. I have only the memory of an impressive 
silence most unusual at such functions. In all that crowded 
mass of folk, so wedged together that tea drinking was 
almost an impossibility, though the attempt was made, 
there was little or no speech. A whispered word; a re- 
mark implying awe or love, was all. I strove to get where 
I could at least see Him. All but impossible. At last I 
managed to press forward where I could peep over a 
shoulder and so got my first glimpse of 'Abdu'1-Baha. He 
was seated. A cream colored fez upon His head from 
under which white hair flowed almost to His shoulders. 

Portals To Freedom 29 

His robe, what little I could see of it, was oriental, almost 
white. But these were incidentals to which I could pay 
little attention. The impressive thing, and what I have 
never forgotten, was an indefinable aspect of majesty 
combined with an exquisite courtesy. He was just in the 
moment of accepting a cup of tea from the hostess. Such 
gentleness, such love emanated from Him as I had never 
seen. I was not emotionally disturbed. Remember that at 
that time I had no conviction, almost, I might say, little 
or no interest in what I came later to understand by the 
term His "Station." I was an onlooker at a scene concern- 
ing the significance of which I was totally ignorant. Yes, 
ignorant. What matter that I had read and prayed! My 
mind was attracted and my heart, but inner doors were 
shut and locked. No wonder that I was unhappy. But 
within my soul was an urge, a longing, that would not be 
stilled nor thwarted. What was it that these people around 
me had which gave to their eyes such illumination, to 
their hearts such gladness? What connotation did the word 
"wonderful" have to them that so often it was upon their 
lips? I did not know, but I wanted to know as I think I 
had never known the want of anything before. 

The measure of that desire and the determination to 
discover may be indicated in that the very next morning, 
early, I was at the Hotel Ansonia where the friends had 
reserved rooms for Him a beautiful suite which 'Abdu'l- 
Baha used only a few days, removing to a simple apart- 
ment, and refusing with kindly dignity the urgent offer 
of the friends to meet any expense. He said that it was 
not the part of wisdom. 

30 Portals To Freedom 

So before nine o'clock in the morning I was there, 
which meant, since I lived some distance from New York, 
an early start indeed. Already the large reception room 
was well filled. Evidently others also were conscious of 
a similar urge. I wondered if they too felt, as I, a burning 
in the breast. 

I remember as if it were yesterday the scene and my 
impressions. I did not want to talk to anyone. In fact I 
would not. I withdrew to the window overlooking Broad- 
way and turned my back upon them all. Below me 
stretched the great city but I saw it not. What was it all 
about? Why was I here? What did I expect from the 
coming interview: indeed how did I know there was to 
be any interview at all? I had no appointment. Plainly all 
these other folk had come expecting to see and talk with 
Him. Why should I expect any attention from such an 
evident personage? 

So I was somewhat withdrawn from the others when 
my attention was attracted by a rustling throughout the 
room. A door was opening far across from me and a 
group was emerging and 'Abdu'1-Baha appeared saying 
farewell. None had any eyes save for Him. Again I had 
the impression of a unique dignity and courtesy and love. 
The morning sunlight flooded the room to center on His 
robe. His fez was slightly tilted and as I gazed, His hand, 
with a gesture evidently characteristic, raised and, touch- 
ing, restored it to its proper place. His eyes met mine as 
my fascinated glance was on Him. He smiled and, with a 
gesture which no word but "lordly'' can describe, He 
beckoned me. Startled gives no hint of my sensations. 
Something incredible had happened. Why to me, a 

Mortals Lotreeaom 31 

stranger unknown, unheard of, should He raise that 
friendly hand? I glanced around. Surely it was to someone 
else that gesture was addressed, those eyes were smiling! 
But there was no one near and again I looked and again 
He beckoned and such understanding love enveloped me 
that even at that distance and with a heart still cold a thrill 
ran through me as if a breeze from a divine morning had 
touched my brow! 

Slowly I obeyed that imperative command and, as I 
approached the door where still He stood, He motioned 
others away and stretched His hand to me as if He had 
always known me. And, as our right hands met, with His 
left He indicated that all should leave the room, and He 
drew me in and closed the door. I remember how sur- 
prised the interpreter looked when he too was included 
in this general dismissal. But I had little thought then for 
anything but this incredible happening. I was absolutely 
alone with 'Abdu'1-Baha. The halting desire expressed 
weeks ago was fulfilled the very moment that our eyes 
first met. 

Still holding my hand 'Abdu'1-Baha walked across the 
room towards where, in the window, two chairs were 
waiting. Even then the majesty of His tread impressed 
me and I felt like a child led by His father, a more than 
earthly father, to a comforting conference. His hand still 
held mine and frequently His grasp tightened and held 
more closely. And then, for the first time, He spoke, and 
in my own tongue: Softly came the assurance that I was 
His very dear son. 

What there was in these simple words that carried such 

32 Portals To Freedom 

conviction to my heart I cannot say. Or was it the tone 
of voice and the atmosphere pervading the room, filled 
with spiritual vibrations beyond anything I had ever 
known, that melted my heart almost to tears? I only know 
that a sense of verity invaded me. Here at last 'was my 
Father. What earthly paternal relationship could equal 
this? A new and exquisite emotion all but mastered me. 
My throat swelled. My eyes filled. I could not have spoken 
had life depended on a word. I followed those masterly 
feet like a little child. 

Then we sat in the two chairs by the window: knee to 
knee, eye to eye. At last He looked right into me. It was 
the first time since our eyes had met with His first beckon- 
ing gesture that this had happened. And now nothing 
intervened between us and He looked at me. He looked 
at me! It seemed as though never before had anyone 
really seen me. I felt a sense of gladness that I at last was 
at home, and that one who knew me utterly, my Father, 
in truth, was alone with me. 

As He looked such play of thought found reflection in 
His face, that if He had talked an hour not nearly so much 
could have been said. A little surprise, perhaps, followed 
swiftly by such sympathy, such understanding, such over- 
whelming love it was as if His very being opened to 
receive me. With that the heart within me melted and the 
tears flowed. I did not weep, in any ordinary sense. There 
was no breaking up of feature. It was as if a long-pent 
stream was at last undammed. Unheeded, as I looked at 
Him, they flowed. 

He put His two thumbs to my eyes while He wiped 
the tears from my face; admonishing me not to cry, that 

Portals To Freedom 33 

one must always be happy. And He laughed. Such a 
ringing, boyish laugh. It was as though He had discovered 
the most delightful joke imaginable: a divine joke which 
only He could appreciate. 

I could not speak. We both sat perfectly silent for 
what seemed a long while, and gradually a great peace 
came to me. Then 'Abdu'1-Baha placed His hand upon 
my breast saying that it was the heart that speaks. Again 
silence: a long, heart-enthralling silence. No word further 
was spoken, and all the time I was with Him not one 
single sound came from me. But no word was necessary 
from me to Him. I knew that, even then, and how I 
thanked God it was so. 

Suddenly He leaped from His chair with another 
laugh as though consumed with a heavenly joy. Turning, 
He took me under the elbows and lifted me to my feet 
and swept me into his arms. Such a hug! No mere em- 
brace! My very ribs cracked. He kissed me on both 
cheeks, laid His arm across my shoulders and led me to 
the door. 

That is all. But life has never been quite the same since. 

34 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Two 




"The authorized Interpreter and Exemplar of Bah 
'LPllah's teachings was His eldest son *Abdu'l-Baha 
(Servant of Baha) who was appointed by His Father 
as the Center to whom all Baha'is, should turn for in- 
struction and guidance." 

Shoghi Effendi. 

TO estimate, even to imagine, the possibilities of the 
human soul is beyond man's thinking. "I am man's 
mystery and he is My mystery." And 'Abdu'l 7 Baha says 
that no man can know himself since it is impossible to 
look at oneself from without. 1 Because of this, and be- 
cause men commonly tend to accept a lower estimate of 
their own capacities rather than a higher, a certain 
heroism is essential to high attainment. This is true, of 
course, when the goal is a material one. It is not generally 
realized that it is much more true when the plane of seek- 

1 See Baha'i Scriptures, p. 405. 

Portals To Freedom 35 

ing is spiritual. To accept the dictum that nothing is too 
good to be true, and nothing is too high to be attained, 
requires a willingness to run counter to the accepted 
standards of men, who, as a rule, measure their ambitions 
by a quite different standard. 

After meeting 'Abdu'1-Baha life, as I have intimated, 
assumed a very different aspect. But in what that dif- 
ference consisted I could not then determine, and after 
these twenty-five years I cannot now fully determine, ex- 
cept that a goal had emerged from the mists surrounding 
worthy of supreme struggle and sacrifice. I began to see, 
dimly indeed but clearly enough to give me hope, that 
even if I could not know myself, I knew with certainty 
that heights far beyond ever before dreamed attainable 
lay before me and could be reached. This was all I knew 
but it was much. I remember saying to myself over and 
over: "At last the desire of my soul is in sight." I gazed 
at 'Abdu'1-Baha with a mixture of hope and despair. The 
world and I in turmoil and here was peace. He sat or 
stood, walked or talked in a world of His own, yet with 
beckoning hands to all who yearned and strove. It seemed 
to me that He stood at the heart of a whirlwind in a place 
of supreme quiet, or at the hypothetical perfectly still 
center of a rapidly revolving flywheel. I looked at this 
stillness, this quietude, this immeasurable calm in 'Abdu'l- 
Baha and it filled me with a restless longing akin to despair. 
Is it any wonder I was unhappy? For I was desperately 
unhappy. Was I not in the outer circle of that raging 
tornado? And to attain that Center of stillness meant the 
traversing of the storm. But to know there was a Center: 

36 Portals To Freedom 

nay, to see One sitting calmly there, was a knowledge, a 
glimpse, never before attained. And so, another divine 
paradox: in my misery of doubting hope lay the first hint 
of divine assurance I had ever known. I remembered an- 
other arresting phrase in the Seven Valleys and said to 
myself: "Though I search for a hundred thousand years 
for the Beauty of the Friend I shall never despair for He 
will assuredly direct me into His way." 2 

Not long after that great first experience with * Abdu'l- 
Baha I was again talking with Him. It was in the beautiful 
home of Mr. and Mrs. Kinney, a family of the friends 
who seemed to feel that the gift of all which they pos- 
sessed was too little to express their adoring love. Entering 
their home the roar of the city, the elegance and luxury 
of Riverside Drive, the poverty and wealth of our modern 
civilization all seemed to merge into a unity of nothing- 
ness and one entered an atmosphere of Reality. Those 
heavenly souls who thus demonstrated beyond any words 
their self-dedication had a direct influence upon my 
hesitating feet of which they could have had no suspicion. 
My heart throughout all worlds shall be filled with thank- 
fulness to them. 

In this home I had become a constant habitue. I could 
not keep away. One day 'Abdu'1-Baha, the interpreter and 
I were alone in one of the smaller reception rooms on the 
ground floor. 'Abdu'1-Baha had been speaking of some 
Christian doctrine and His interpretation of the words of 

2 Seven Valleys by Baha 'U'lldh. 

Portals To Freedom 37 

Christ was so different from the accepted one that I 
could not restrain an expression of remonstrance. I re- 
member speaking with some heat: 

"How is it possible to be so sure?" I asked. "No one 
can say with certainty what Jesus meant after all these 
centuries of misinterpretation and strife." 

He intimated that it was quite possible. 

It is indicative of my spiritual turmoil and my blind- 
ness to His station, that instead of His serenity and tone 
of authority impressing me as warranted it drove me to 
actual impatience. "That I cannot believe." I exclaimed. 

I shall never forget the glance of outraged dignity the 
interpreter cast upon me. It was as though he would say: 
"Who are you to contradict or even to question 'Abdu'l- 

But not so did 'Abdu'1-Baha look at me. How I thank 
God that it was not! He looked at me a long moment 
before He spoke. His calm, beautiful eyes searched my 
soul with such love and understanding that all my momen- 
tary heat evaporated. He smiled as winningly as a lover 
smiles upon his beloved, and the arms of His spirit seemed 
to embrace me as He said softly that I should try my way 
and He would try His. 

It was as though a cool hand had been laid upon a 
fevered brow; as though a cup of nectar had been held to 
parched lips; as though a key had unlocked my hard- 
bolted, crusted and rusted heart. The tears started and my 
voice trembled, "Fm sorry," I murmured. 

Often since that day have I pondered on the tragic 
possibilities of the effect of an expression of the face. I 

38 Portals To Freedom 

have even thought I should like to write a book on The 
Glance that Saved the World, taking as a theme the way 
Jesus must have looked upon Peter after the three-fold 
denial. What could that glance have carried to the fear- 
stricken, doubting, angry Peter? Surely not the self- 
righteous, dignified look in the eyes of the interpreter for 
'Abdul-Baha. As surely it must have been something in 
the nature of the expression of all-embracing love, for- 
giveness and understanding with which 'Abdu'1-Baha 
calmed and soothed and assured my heart. 

Upon that glance which Jesus cast upon Peter as he 
went to the Cross probably hung the destinies of Chris- 
tianity. Had it not been one of forgiveness and love Peter 
would not have gone out and "wept bitterly." Neither, in 
all probability, would he have died a martyr to the 
Cause of Him whom he denied in that moment of angry 
fear. Is it too much to go one step further and assert that 
the destinies of the world hung upon that moment of 
time when the eyes of Peter and His Master met and he 
read therein not what his soul knew he deserved but 
what God's mercy conferred as a bounty on His part. 

Of one thing I am sure: upon that glance of 'Abdu'l- 
Baha, upon that moment in which He turned upon me 
the searchlight of His inner being, hung my destiny 
throughout all the ages of immortal life. And not only my 
own destiny, which, after all is of slight importance com- 
pared to the hope of the world, but the destiny of the 
uncounted millions who throughout the coming genera- 
tions of men are interwoven with mine. For any thought- 
ful mind looking back upon so many as three-score years, 

Portals To Freedom 39 

must be amazed, if not horrified, by the consideration of 
the effect of a single careless gesture, word or a facial 
expression. Like a pebble cast into a calm pool the ripples 
from that little deed spread and spread to infinity. And, 
as they spread, they touch the ripples from tens, scores, 
thousands of others' deeds, expressions, gestures, thoughts; 
each affected by each until one becomes conscious of the 
vast responsibility each soul takes upon itself by the mere 
fact of acting his part, living his life through one little 
moment of time. He sees himself a king affecting for 
better or worse every soul in the world, sooner or later, 
by the very breath he draws, the thoughts of his inmost 
heart. Baha 'U'llah says somewhere that he who quickens 
one soul in this Day it is as if he quickened every soul in 
the world. Is not this His meaning? 

In all of my many opportunities of meeting, of listening 
to and talking with 'Abdu'1-Baha I was impressed, and 
constantly more deeply impressed, with His method of 
teaching souls. That is the word. He did not attempt to 
reach the mind alone. He sought the soul, the reality of 
every one He met. Oh, He could be logical, even scientific 
in His presentation of an argument, as He demonstrated 
constantly in the many addresses I have heard Him give 
and the many more I have read. But it was not the logic 
of the schoolman, not the science of the class room. His 
lightest word, His slightest association with a soul was 
shot through with an illuminating radiance which lifted 
the hearer to a higher plane of consciousness. Our hearts 
burned within us when He spoke. And He never argued, 
of course. Nor did He press a point. He left one free. 

40 Portals To Freedom 

There was never an assumption of authority, rather He 
was ever the personification of humility. He taught "as 
if offering a gift to a king." He never told me what I 
should do, beyond suggesting that what I was doing was 
right. Nor did He ever tell me what I should believe. He 
made Truth and Love so beautiful and royal that the heart 
perforce did reverence. He showed me by His voice, 
manner, bearing, smile, how I should be, knowing that out 
of the pure soil of being the good fruit of deeds and words 
would surely spring. 

There was a strange, awe-inspiring mingling of humility 
and majesty, relaxation and power in His slightest word 
or gesture which made me long to understand its source. 
What made Him so different, so immeasurably superior 
to any other man I had ever met? 

It was to be expected that the spiritual turmoil in which 
my life was now submerged should have a deep effect 
upon the duties of my ministry. My ideals began to change 
almost from the moment of my first contact with 'Abdu'l- 
Baha. I remember that the dearly loved young wife of 
one of the members of my church was suddenly taken ill 
about this time. I had then been under this clivine in- 
fluence only a few weeks. I was not a Baha'i. I did not 
accept Baha'U'llah as the Manifestation of God. I knew 
very little of what I heard spoken of as the "station" of 
'Abdu'1-Baha. But I was enthralled with the vision of a 
spiritual beauty, a hope of spiritual attainment which drew 
me as with cords of steel. I read the Hidden Words, the 
Seven Valleys, the Book of Assurance* the beautiful 
prayers, constantly. So when this friend came to me as 

a Boote by Baha'U'llah. 

______ _ Portals To Freedom 41 

his minister and with tears asked me to pray for the 
recovery of his wife, saying that his physician held out 
little hope, that she was daily growing weaker and that 
his only hope was in the goodness of God, I instinctively 
turned to the healing prayers in the Baha'i prayer book. 
Together we nine times repeated: 

"O my Lord! Thy Name is her healing. Thy remem- 
brance is her remedy. To be near Thee is her hope and 
Thy love is her joyous companion. Thy mercy is her need 
and her aid in this world and in the worlds to come. 
Thou art the Giver, All-knowing and Wise." 4 

The husband knew nothing, or very little, of the Baha'i 
Cause. I certainly had made no effort to explain the teach- 
ings to him. It was all too new to me to permit of that. 
I marvelled at the time, or immediately after, at my 
temerity and at his unhesitating and grateful acceptance 
of the prayers. Perhaps it was with his tongue in his cheek 
though he was distraught enouga to grasp at any hope. 
Of that I can know nothing, but I do know that his wife's 
recovery dated from that hour and she was soon well. 

I speak of this only as an illustration of the new relation- 
ships with souls that began at this time. When Christ said 
to His fisher disciples: "Follow Me and I will make you 
fishers of men," He must have meant that "following" to 
be a matter of spiritual consciousness out of which flows 
loving deeds. As though He would say: "Be like Me and 

4 One of the Healincr Pravers revealed bv Baha 'U'llah. 

42 Portals To Freedom 

men will love you as they love Me, and you will be able 
to serve men as I have served you." At any rate that is 
what 'Abdu'1-Baha was constantly showing me, that the 
only way I could teach men the Way of Life was by 
walking therein myself. "I am the Way." 

I asked 'Abdu'1-Baha one day: "Why should I believe 
in Baha'U'llah?" 

He looked long and searchingly as it seemed into my 
very soul. The silence deepened. He did not answer. In 
that silence I had time to consider why I had asked the 
question, and dimly I began to see that only I myself 
could supply the reason. After all, why should I believe 
in anyone or anything except as a means, an incentive, a 
dynamic for the securing of a fuller, deeper, more perfect 
life? Does the cabinet-maker's apprentice ask himself why 
he should believe in the master wood-worker? He wants 
to know how to make these raw materials into things of 
beauty and usefulness. He must believe in anyone who 
can show him how to do that, providing he first has faith in 
his own capacity. I had the stuff of life. Was Baha'U'llah 
the Master Workman? If He were I knew that I would 
follow, even though through blood and tears. But how 
could I know? 

I wondered why 'Abdu'1-Baha kept silence so long. 
Yet was it silence? That stillness held more than words. 
At last He spoke. He said that the work of a Christian 
minister is most important. When you preach, or pray, 
or teach your people your heart must be filled with love 
for them and love for God. And you must be sincere, 
very sincere. 

Portals To Freedom 43 

He spoke in Persian, the interpreter translating fluently 
md beautifully. But no one could interpret that Divine 
Voice. He spoke, indeed, as never mere man spake. One 
istened entranced and understood inwardly even before 
:he interpreter opened his mouth. It was as though the 
English skimmed the surface: the voice, the eyes, the smile 
}f 'Abdu'1-Baha taught the heart to probe the depths. 
He continued, to the effect that: 

One can never be sincere enough until his heart is 
entirely severed from attachment to the things of this 
world. One should not preach love and have a loveless 
heart, nor preach purity and harbor impure thoughts. 
Nor preach peace and be at inward strife. 

He paused and added with a sort of humorous sadness: 
that He had known ministers who did this. My guilty 
conscience acquiesced. So had I. 

It was not until many months later that I realized that 
He had answered my question. Certainly I was brought 
learer to faith in Baha'U'llah as Life's Master Workman. 
Surely this was a glorious hint as to how the stuff of life 
could be made into things of beauty and worth. Just for 
an instant I touched the Garment of His Majesty. But 
only for an instant. The doors swung quickly to again and 
left me out. These days and weeks of alternating light 
and darkness, hope and despair were black indeed. Yet, 
strange to say, I gloried in the depths. They were at least 
real. For the first time I realized the value, the imperative 

44 Portals To Freedom 

need, of spiritual suffering. The throes of parturition must 
always precede birth. 

I remember as though it were yesterday another illus- 
tration of 'Abdu'l-Baha's divine technique. I was not at 
all well that summer. A relapse was threatening a return 
of a condition which had necessitated a major operation 
the year before. My nervous condition made me consider 
breaking the habit of smoking which had been with me 
all my adult life. I had always prided myself on the ability 
to break the habit at any time. In fact I had several times 
cut off the use of tobacco for a period of many months. 
But this time to my surprise and chagrin I found my nerves 
and will in such a condition that after two or three days 
the craving became too much for me. 

Finally it occurred to me to ask the assistance of 
'Abdu'1-Baha. I had read His beautiful Tablet beginning: 
"O ye pure friends of God!" in which He glorified per- 
sonal cleanliness and urged the avoidance of anything 
tending towards habits of self-indulgence. "Surely,!' I 
said to myself, "He will tell me how to overcome this 

So, when I next saw Him I told Him all about it. It 
was like a child confessing to His mother, and my voice 
trailed away to embarrassed silence after only the fewest 
of words. But He understood, indeed much better than I 
did. Again I was conscious of an embracing, understand- 
ing love as He regarded me. After a moment He asked 
quietly, how much I smoked. 

I told him. 

He said He did not think that would hurt me, that the 
men in the Orient smoked all the time, that their hair and 

Portals To Freedom 45 

beards and clothing became saturated, and often very 
offensive. But that I did not do this, and at my age and 
having been accustomed to it for so many years He did 
not think that I should let it trouble me at all. His gentle 
eyes and smile seemed to hold a twinkle that recalled my 
impression of His enjoyment of a divine joke. 

I was somewhat overwhelmed. Not a dissertation on 
the evils of habit; not an explanation of the bad effects on 
health; not a summoning of my will power to overcome 
desire, rather a Charter of Freedom did He present to me. 
I did not understand but it was a great relief for some- 
how I knew that this was wise advice. So immediately 
that inner conflict was stilled and I enjoyed my smoke 
with no smitings of conscience. But two days after this 
conversation I found the desire for tobacco had entirely 
left me and I did not smoke again for seven years. 

Love is the Portal to Freedom. This great truth began 
to dawn upon me. 

Not only freedom to the one who loves but freedom 
also to the one upon whom this divine love is bestowed. 
I have mentioned several times the impression He always 
made upon ftie of an all-embracing love. How rarely we 
receive such an impression from those around us, even 
from our nearest and dearest, we all know. All our human 
love seems based upon self, and even its highest expression 
is limited to one or to a very few. Not so was the love 
which radiated from 'Abdu'1-Baha. Like the sun it poured 
upon all alike and, like it, also warmed and gave new life 
to all it touched. 

In my experience in the Christian ministry I had been 
accustomed often to speak of the Love of God. All 

40 Portals To Freedom 

through my life since, as a boy of fifteen I had experienced 
the thrilling gift of "conversion," so-called (in which, 
literally, the heavens had opened, a great light shone and 
a Voice from the world unseen called me to renunciation 
and the life of the spirit), I had heard and spoken much 
of the Love of God. I now realized that I had never before 
even known what the words meant. 

About this time I first heard the now familiar story of 
'Abdu'l-Baha's answer to one who asked Him why it was 
that those who came from His presence possessed a shin- 
ing face. He said, with that sublime smile and humble 
gesture of the hands which once seen may never be for- 
gotten, that if it were so it must be because He saw in 
every face the face of His Heavenly Father." 

Ponder this answer. Deeply search the depths of these 
simple words, for here may be discerned the meaning of 
the "Love of God" and the cause of Its transforming 
power. One may readily understand why the lover's face 
should glow with heavenly radiance. Surely one's whole 
being would be transformed once the Lamp of Cosmic 
love were ignited in the heart. But why should It cause 
the face of the seeker, the estranged, the sinful, upon 
whom the love is turned, also to become radiant? 

We find the answer in another of 'Abdu'l-Baha's com- 
prehensive, authoritative sayings: 

"Dost thou desire to love God? Love thy fellow men, 
for in them ye see the image and likeness of God." 5 

But it requires the penetrating eye of a more than 
personal, individual, limited, love to see God's Face in 

6 Divine Art of Living, p. 115. 

Portals To Freedom 47 

the face of saint and sinner alike. Must it not require, to 
some degree at least, that all-embracing love which Christ 
showered upon all alike, to enable us to see the Face of 
our Heavenly Father reflected in the faces of our brother 
men? This must be what our Lord meant when He said: 

"A new commandment I give unto you that ye love 
one another as I have loved you." 

A new commandment indeed, and how basely neglected 
let the condition of our pseudo-Christian civilization bear 

About this time I was present at an interview sought 
by a Unitarian clergyman, who was preparing an article 
on the Baha'i Cause for the North American Review. 
Here again I saw this universal, cosmic love illustrated. 
This minister was quite advanced in age. He has since 
passed from this world and now, we may hope, has a 
clearer vision of the Reality of Love and Truth than he 
seemed to have discovered here. It was incredible to me, 
even then, that any soul could be so impervious to the 
influence emanating from 'Abdu'1-Baha. The Master sat 
quite silent throughout the interview, listening with un- 
wearied attention to the long hypothetical questions of 
the reverend doctor. They related entirely to the history 
of the Baha'i Cause; its early dissensions; its relation to 
the Muhammaden priesthood and teachings. 'Abdu'1-Baha 
answered mainly in monosyllables. He never flagged in 
interest but it seemed to be more an interest in the ques- 
tioner than in his questions. He sat perfectly relaxed, His 
hands in His lap with palms upward, as was characteristic 

48 Portals To Freedom 

of Him. He looked at the interviewer with that inde- 
scribable expression of understanding love which never 
failed. His face was radiant with an inner flame. 

The doctor talked on and on. I grew more and more 
impatient. I was ashamed of and for him. Why did not 
'Abdu'1-Baha recognize the superficial nature underlying 
all these questions? Could He not see that their object was 
only to gain substantiation for a critically adverse maga- 
zine article for the writing of which a substantial check 
might be anticipated? Why was not the interview cut 
short and the talker dismissed? But if others in the group 
grew impatient 'Abdu'1-Baha did not. He encouraged the 
doctor to express himself fully. If the speaker flagged for 
a moment 'Abdu'1-Baha spoke briefly in reply to a ques- 
tion and then waited courteously for him to continue. 

At last the reverend doctor paused. There was silence 
for a moment and then that softly resonant voice filled 
the room. Sentence by sentence the interpreter translated. 
He spoke of "His Holiness Christ," of His love for all 
men, strong even unto the Cross; of the high station of the 
Christian ministry "to which you, my dear son, have been 
called"; of the need that men called to this station should 
"characterize themselves with the characteristics of God" 
in order that their people should be attracted to the divine 
life, for none can resist the expression in one's life of the 
attributes of God. It is a key which unlocks every heart. 
He spoke, too, of the coming Kingdom of God on earth 
for which Christ had told us to pray and which, in ac- 
cordance with His promise, Baha'U'llah, the Father, had 
come to this world to establish. 

Within five minutes His questioner had become 

Portals To Freedom 49 

humble, for the moment, at least, a disciple at His feet. 
He seemed to have been transported to another world, 
as indeed we all were. His face shone faintly as though 
he had received an inner illumination. Then 'Abdu'1-Baha 
rose. We all rose with Him in body as we had risen with 
Him in spirit. He lovingly embraced the doctor and led 
him towards the door. At the threshold He paused. His 
eyes had lighted upon a large bunch of American Beauty 
roses which one of the friends had brought to Him that 
morning. There were at least two dozen of them, perhaps 
three. There were so many and their stems so long that 
they had been placed in an earthenware umbrella stand. 
We all had noticed their beauty and fragrance. 

No sooner had 'Abdu'l-Baha's eyes lighted upon them 
than He laughed aloud; His boyish hearty laughter rang 
through the room. He stooped, gathered the whole bunch 
in His arms, straightened and placed them all in the 
arms of His visitor. Never shall I forget that round, 
bespectacled, grey head above that immense bunch of 
lovely flowers. So surprised, so radiant, so humble, so 
transformed. Ah! 'Abdu'1-Baha knew how to teach the 
Love of God! 

50 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Three 





"O God! Illumine the eyes and the hearts of Thy servants 
with the Light of Thy Knowledge, that they may know 
of this: the Highest Station and Glorious Horizon, that , 
they may not be withheld by false voices from beholding 
the effulgence of the Light of Thy Oneness, nor prevented 
from turning unto the horizon of Renunciation." 


THE home to which I have before referred, where 
'Abdu'1-Baha spent most of His time during His 
stay in New York, was the rendezvous of all the friends, 
and at all times, day or night, there they could be found 
clustering like bees around the celestial flower garden. 
One beautiful Spring day I dropped in there drawn by the 
same attraction. 

One cannot help making the attempt toward analyzing 
the reason for this attraction, futile though it may be. 

Portals To Freedom 5 1 

Would it be possible for the moth to determine why it 
hovers around the candle, even though its wings be 
singed? Or for one to say why the cold earth of Spring 
responds with beauty and abundance to the bounty of 
the sun? To man, however, is given intelligence denied 
to bee and soil. The miner knows why he toils for gold 
or precious stones. The diver knows why he braves the 
depths to seek the pearl. They bear in their minds the 
vision of the good things of life represented by the treas- 
ure they seek. The imagination of the lonely prospector 
is stirred by the dream of the vast fortune which his 
probing pick may at any moment uncover. The wealth 
of sea and mine and market-place represent to men 
power, leisure, freedom; and these they ardently desire. 
Yet here in this Man I saw personified such power, such 
leisure, such freedom as no material wealth ever confers 
upon its possessor. None of the outward appurtenances 
of material wealth did He possess. All His life had been 
spent in prison and exile. He bore still upon His body 
the marks of man's cruelty, yet there were no signs of 
His ever having been other than free, and evidently it was 
a freedom which no earthly wealth ever bestows. And 
He seemed never to be hurried. Amidst the rushing tur- 
moil of New York He walked as calmly as if on a lofty 
plateau, far removed from the tumult and the shouting. 
Yet He never stood aloof. Always His interest in people 
and events was keen, especially in people. Souls was the 
term He always used. He was ever at the service of any 
or all who needed Him. From five o'clock in the morning 
frequently until long after midnight He was actively 
engaged in service, yet no evidence of haste or stress ever 

52 Portals To Freedom 

could be seen in Him. "Nothing is too much trouble 
when one loves," He had been heard to say, "and there 
is always time." 

Is it any wonder that we were attracted? But for me 
the attraction was not enough. I was like the prospector 
drawn by visions of wealth to seek its fabulous source. 
Just a sip of that celestial wine had caused to spring up 
in my heart a passionate desire to seek the Holy Grail. 

It was mid-afternoon when I arrived at the house, for 
I had purposely timed my arrival so that it should not be 
at the luncheon hour, for hospitable as were the souls of 
these dedicated ones, and however flexible their dining 
table, I knew the size of their household and the great 
number of probably uninvited, but always welcome, 
guests. There were many bees. But I had not counted on 
the irregularity of 'Abdu'l-Baha's meal times and now, 
at half-past three or four o'clock in the afternoon I heard, 
as I softly ascended the stairway, the unmistakable sounds 
of a large group busy in the dining room. The last thing 
I desired was to walk in upon such a gathering unex- 
pectedly, so I very quietly crept through the upper hall 
and through the drawing room into a little alcove as far 
from the dining room as I could get. I am very sure that 
no one saw me. But I had no sooner picked up a maga- 
zine and settled myself to wait patiently until the meal 
should be over, than 'Abdu'l-Baha's ringing, challenging 
voice pealed like a bell through the large rooms. He 
called my name: "Mr. Ives, Mr. Ives, come, come." There 
could be no hesitation when He summoned, but as I rose 

Portals To Freedom 53 

and walked slowly back into the long dining room, set 
T-shape to the drawing room, I was amazed, wondering 
how He could have known so surely and so quickly that 
I was there. There had been no opportunity for Him to 
have been told, and, anyhow I had let myself in at the 
unlocked door and, as I have said, no one had seen me 
ascend the stairs. Yet here I was evidently an expected, 
if not an invited guest. Even a place was there for me, 
at any rate I have no remembrance of any of the usual 
fuss of "setting a place." 'Abdu'1-Baha embraced me and 
set me at His right hand. 

It is most difficult to describe at all adequately such an 
experience in such a Presence without becoming rhapsodi- 
cal. There were perhaps thirty people at the table and 
such joyous exultation was on every face that the whole 
room seemed strangely vibrant. 'Abdu'1-Baha served me 
with His own hands most bountifully, urging me to eat, 
eat, be happy. He himself did not eat but paced regally 
around the table, talking, smiling, serving. He told stories 
of the East, His hands gesturing with that graceful, 
rhythmic, upward motion so characteristic and so in- 
describable. I had no desire for food, at least not for the 
food on my plate, but 'Abdu'1-Baha was insistent, repeat- 
ing that I must eat; that it was good food, good food. And 
His laughter seemed to add a divine significance to the 
words. A phrase I had read somewhere in the writings 
came into my mind: "The cup of significances passed by 
the Hand of the Divine Servant." What was this food 
served at the table of 'Abdu'1-Baha? Of course I must eat. 
And I did. 

54 Portals To Freedom 

It was not many days after that when there occurred 
one of the most poignantly remembered incidents. Ever 
since I had first read a sentence in the "Prayer for In- 
spiration" it had rung in my mind with insistent question- 
ing. "Prevent me not from turning to the Horizon of 
renunciation." What has renunciation to do with inspira- 
tion? I wondered. Why should I pray for the gift of 
renunciation? Renounce the world? That was an ascetic 
concept. It smacked of papacy and the monkish cell. 
What had this modern world to do with renunciation? 
Yet across the ages came a Voice. "If a man love father 
or mother, wife or child more than Me he is not worthy 
of Me." My mind rebelled but my heart responded. I 
thank God for that. I resolved that I must know more 
of this matter. 

So one cold Spring day, a strong east wind blowing, 
I made a special journey to ask 'Abdu'1-Baha about 
renunciation. I found the house at Ninety-sixth Street 
almost deserted. It seemed that 'Abdu'1-Baha was spend- 
ing a day or two at the home of one of the friends on 
Seventy-eighth Street and so I walked there and found 
Him on the point of returning to the home I had just left. 
But I was too intent on my mission to allow difficulties 
to interfere. I sought one of the Persian friends and, point- 
ing to the passage in the little volume I carried in my 
pocket, I asked him if he would request 'Abdu'1-Baha to 
speak to me for a few moments on this subject, and I read 
it to him so that there should be no mistake: "Prevent me 
not from turning to the Horizon of renunciation." 

Returning, he handed me the book saying that 'Abdu'l- 

Portals To Freedom 55 

Baha requested that I walk with Him back to Ninety- 
sixth Street and He would talk with me on the way. 

I recall that there was quite a little procession of us, 
a dozen or so, mostly composed of the Persian friends 
but a few others; Lua Getsinger was one, I remember. 
The east wind was penetrating. I buttoned my coat closely 
with a little shiver. But 'Abdu'1-Baha strode along with 
his 'aba (cloak) floating in the wind. He looked at me as 
we walked together at the head of the little group, with a 
slightly quizzical glance: He said that I seemed cold, a 
slightly amused glance accompanying the words, and I 
unaccountably felt a little disturbed. Why should I not 
feel cold? Could one be expected to live even above the 
weather? But this slight remark was indicative. Always 
His slightest word affected me as a summons. "Come up 
higher!" He seemed to say. 

As we walked a few paces ahead of the others He 
talked at length about Horizons. Of how the Sun of 
Reality, like the physical sun, rose at different points, the 
Sun of Moses at one point, the Sun of Jesus at another, 
the Sun of Muhammad, the Sun of Baha'IPllah at still 
others. But always the same Sun though the rising points 
varied greatly. Always we must look for the light of the 
Sun, He said, and not keep our eyes so firmly fixed on its 
last point of rising that we fail to see its glory when it rises 
in the new Spiritual Springtime. Once or twice He 
stopped and, with His stick, drew on the sidewalk an 
imaginary horizon and indicated the rising points of the 
sun. A strange sight it must have been to the casual 

56 Portals To Freedom 

I was greatly disappointed. I had heard Him speak on 
this subject and had read about it in "Some Answered 
Questions" It was not of horizons I wanted to hear, but 
of renunciation. And I was deeply depressed also because 
I felt that He should have known my desire for light on 
this subject, and responded to my longing even if I had 
not been so explicit in my request; but I had been most 
explicit. As we approached our destination He became 
silent. My disappointment had long since merged into a 
great content. Was it not enough to be with Him? What, 
after all, could He tell me about renunciation that was 
not already in my own heart? Perhaps the way to learn 
about it was by doing, and I might begin by giving up 
the longing to have Him talk to me about it. Truly, as 
the outer silence deepened, my heart burned within me as 
'He talked with me on the way. 

We came at last to the steps leading up to the entrance 
door. 'Abdu'1-Baha paused with one foot resting on the 
lower step while the little group slowly passed Him and 
entered the house. 'Abdu'1-Baha made as if to follow, but 
instead He turned and, looking down at me from the little 
elevation of the step, with that subtle meaning in eyes and 
voice which seemed to accompany His slightest word, 
and which to me was always so unfathomable and so 
alluring: He said that I must always remember that this 
is a day of great things, very great things. 

I was speechless. It was not for me to answer. I did 
not have the faintest inkling of what lay behind the words, 
the resonant voice, that penetrating glance. Then He 
turned and again made as if to ascend but again He 
paused and turned His now luminous face towards me. 

Portals To Freedom 57 

My foot was raised to follow but as He turned, I, of 
course, paused also and hung uncertainly between rest 
and motion. 

He repeated, saying to me so impressively, so earnestly, 
that I must never forget this, that this Is a day for very 
great things. 

What could He mean? What deep significance lay 
behind these simple words? Why should He speak so to 
me? Had it anything to do with that still alluring thought 
of renunciation? 

Again 'Abdu'1-Baha turned to ascend and I made to 
follow; but for the third time He paused and, turning, as 
it seemed, the full light of His spirit upon me, He said 
again, but this time in what seemed like a voice of thunder, 
with literally flashing eyes and emphatically raised hand: 
that I should remember His words that This is a Day for 
very great things VERY GREAT THINGS. These 
last three words rang out like a trumpet call. The long, 
deserted city block seemed to echo them. I was over- 
whelmed. I seemed to dwindle, almost to shrivel, where 
I stood, as that beautifully dominant figure, that com- 
manding and appealing voice, surrounded me like a sea, 
and blotted out for the moment, at least, all the petty 
world and my petty self with it. Who and what was I 
to be summoned to accomplish great things, very great 
things? I did not even know what things 'were great in 
this world awry with misbegotten emphases. 

After what seemed a very long moment, in which His 
burning eyes probed my soul, He gently smiled. The 
great moment had passed. He was again the courteous, 
kindly, humble host, the Father whom I thought I knew. 

58 Portals To Freedom 

He touched His fez * so that it stood at what I called 
the humorous angle, and a slightly quizzical smile was 
around His mouth as He rapidly ascended the steps 
and entered the open door. I followed closely. We passed 
through the few steps of the hall to the stairs. I remember 
the wondering, slightly envious glances that followed me 
as I followed 'Abdu'1-Baha up the stairs. The upper hall 
was empty and 'Abdu'1-Baha swept through it and up 
another flight to His room, a large front room on the 
third floor. And still I followed. I have often marvelled 
since at my temerity. Had I known more or felt less I 
never should have dared. It is said that fools rush in where 
angels fear to tread. Perhaps that is the way that fools are 
cured of their folly. 

We came to the door of 'Abdu'l-Baha's room. He had 
not invited me there, nor had He looked once behind Him 
to see that I was following, and it was with much inward 
trepidation that I paused at the threshold as He entered 
the room. Would He be displeased? Had I overstepped 
the bounds of the respect due 'Abdu'1-Baha? Had I been 
lacking in due humility? But my heart was humility itself 
He must know that. He swung the door wide and turn- 
ing beckoned me in. 

Again I was alone with 'Abdu'1-Baha. There was the 
bed in which He slept, the chair in which He sat. The 
late afternoon sunlight lay palely across the floor, but I 
saw nothing. I was conscious only of Him and that I 
was alone with Him. The room was very still. No sound 
came from the street nor from the lower rooms. The 
silence deepened as He regarded me with that loving, all- 

1 Head covering. 

Portals To Freedom 59 

embracing, all-understanding look which always melted 
my heart. A deep content and happiness flooded my being. 
A little flame seemed lit within my breast. And then 
'Abdu'1-Baha spoke: He simply asked me if I were in- 
terested in renunciation. 

Nothing could have been more unexpected. I had en- 
tirely forgotten the question which had so engrossed my 
thoughts an hour since. Or was it that in that hour during 
which the word renunciation had not been mentioned, 
all that I wished or needed to know about it had been 
vouchsafed me? I had no words to answer His question. 
Was I interested? I could not say I was and I would not 
say I was not. I stood before Him silent while His whole 
Being seemed to reach out to embrace me. Then His arm 
was around me and He led me to the door. I left His 
Presence with my soul treading the heights. I felt as 
though I had been admitted, for the moment at least, into 
the ranks of the martyrs. And it was a goodly fellowship 
indeed. During all the long years of renunciation that fol- 
lowed, the memory of that walk with Him; my disap- 
pointment that He had not understood; His ringing 
challenge: This is a Day for very great things: my fol- 
lowing Him up those long stairs without even knowing 
whether He wished me to or not, and then the question 
wrapped in that sublime love: Are you interested in 
renunciation? has risen before me, a comforting and in- 
spiring challenge. Indeed I 'was interested and my interest 
has never flagged from that day to this. But I never 
dreamed that renunciation could be so glorious. 

60 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Four 




"And finally there emerges, though on a plane of its 
own and in a category entirely apart from the one oc- 
cupied by the two Figures (the Bab and Baha'U'llah) 
that preceded Him, the vibrant, the magnetic personality 
of 'Abdu'1-Baha, reflecting to a degree that no man, 
however exalted his station, can hope to rival, the glory 
and power with which They who are the Manifestations 
of God are alone endowed." 

Shoghi Effendi. 

DURING one of the talks given by 'Abdu'1-Baha to 
a comparatively small group of the more intimate 
friends, I sat beside Him on a small sofa. For most of the 
hour, while He talked and answered questions, He held 
my hand in His or rested it lightly upon my knee. There 
flowed from Him to me during that marvelous contact a 
constant stream of power. The remembrance of this ex- 
perience has brought to me through the years, at higher 
moments of insight, thoughts difficult to express. "Words 1 

i Seven Valleys by Baha'U'llah. 

Portals To Freedom 61 

cannot step into that Court." When 'Abdu'1-Baha says 
that "there is a Power in this Cause far transcending the 
ken of men and angels," 2 what does He mean in terms 
applicable to our everyday human experience, if not that 
the World of Reality is a World of such Power as this 
world has never known? When mankind learns how to 
become a channel for that Power, as He always was and 
is, instead of attempting to mop it up for one's own exclu- 
sive use, then indeed "this world will become a garden 
and a paradise." Certainly I felt that transcendent power 
flowing from Him to me; and Mr. Mountfort Mills once 
told me that he had the same experience when sitting 
close to 'Abdu'1-Baha during an automobile ride. He said 
it was like being charged by a divine battery. 

1 speak of this only because it is another illustration of 
the effect 'Abdu'l-Baha's presence always had on me. I 
could not be near Him without surges of almost irresistible 
emotion sweeping through me. Sometimes the effects of 
this emotion were apparent, but not always. I once spoke 
of this to 'Abdu'1-Baha, apologetically referring to my 
"childish weakness." He said that such tears were the 
pearls of the heart. 

It is not unusual for deep emotions to be stirred when 
the eye is satisfied by a noble picture, a glorious sunset, 
or a peach orchard in full bloom. Or when the ear is 
entranced by the genius of a Beethoven, a Bach, a Men- 
delssohn. To the eye or ear trained to detect subtle 
harmonies of color, composition and tone, a chord is 
struck by transcendent beauty which stirs the depths. 
How much more must this be true when the eye, the ear, 

2 See Baha'i Scriptures, p. 304. 

62 Portals To Freedom 

the heart are filled with the vision of human perfection! 

Here in 'Abdu'1-Baha I saw that for which all my life 
I had longed, perfection in word and deed, a beauty 
which no line or tone could ever depict; a harmony which 
resounded to my inner ear like a mighty symphony; a 
reposeful power such as is hinted at in the Moses of 
Michael Angelo, or the Thinker of Rodin. In 'Abdul- 
Baha it was not a hint I got, it was the perfection of all 
that the hungry heart desired. I have heard of instances 
in the Orient of believers who entered His presence for 
the first time being swept by such irresistible tides of 
emotion that they would seem to dissolve in tears. I can- 
not wonder. Here I saw and felt and heard a simplicity 
merging into power; a humility which sat His brow like 
a kingly crown; a purity which never tarnished, and, 
above all, Truth personified the very Spirit of Truth 
enshrined in a human temple. It was utter satisfaction to 
rny soul simply to be near Him. 

Perhaps there was also a reason for my emotion in the 
despair lying ever deep within; for to me it could never 
be enough merely to contemplate such perfection. A voice 
continually cried within me: "You must never rest until 
you have clothed yourself in the attributes of God." I 
seemed to hear in every word He spoke the words of Jesus: 
"You must be perfect even as your Father in heaven 
is perfect." These had always been more or less only 
words to me. I began now dimly to hope that they might 
really mean exactly what they said. And this became cer- 
tainty when I read for the first of many times these won- 
derful words from Baha'U'llah's Tablet to the Pope: 8 

8 Baha'i Scriptures, p. 403. 

Portals To Freedom 63 

"If ye believe in Me ye shall experience that which has 
been promised you, and I will make you the friends of 
my soul in the realm of My Greatness, and the com- 
panions of My Perfection in the Kingdom of My Might 

Under the influence of such tremendous thoughts as 
these I one day asked 'Abdu'1-Baha how it could ever be 
possible for me, deep in the mass of weak and selfish 
humanity, ever to hope to attain when the goal was so 
high and great. He said that it is to be accomplished little 
by little; little by little. And I thought to myself, I have 
all eternity for this journey from self to God. The thing 
to do is to get started. 

Towards the latter part of April, late one Sunday 
afternoon, I was again at the home where so many won- 
derful hours had been spent. It had become almost a habit, 
when the service at my church was over and dinner dis- 
patched, to hasten in to New York and spend the rest of 
the day and evening at this home. Sometimes I would have 
an opportunity to speak to 'Abdu'1-Baha, but usually I 
must be content with a glimpse of Him, or with listening 
to Him while He spoke to a small group. This particular 
afternoon, however, was destined to be a red-letter day. 
I was standing alone at one of the windows looking out 
upon the street, when I was startled by seeing a large 
group of boys come rushing up the steps. There seemed 
twenty or thirty of them. And they were not what one 
would call representatives of the cultured class. In fact, 

64 Portals To Freedom 

they were a noisy and not too well-dressed lot of urchins, 
but spruce and clean as if for an event. They came up 
the steps with a stamping of feet and loud talk, and I heard 
them being ushered in and up the stairs. 

I turned to Mrs. Kinney, who was standing near. 
"What is the meaning of all this?" I asked. 

"Oh, this is really the most surprising thing," she ex- 
claimed, "I asked them to come today, but I hardly ex- 
pected that they would." 

It seemed that a few days before 'Abdu'1-Baha had 
gone to the Bowery Mission to speak to several hundred 
of New York's wretched poor. As usual, with Him went 
a large group of the Persian and American friends, and 
it made a unique spectacle as this party of Orientals in 
flowing robes and strange head-gear made its way through 
the East Side. Not unnaturally, a number of boys gathered 
in their train and soon they became a little too vocal in 
their expression. As I remember, even some venturesome 
ones called names and threw sticks. As my Hostess told 
the story, she said: "I could not bear to hear 'Abdu'l- 
Baha so treated and dropped behind the others for a 
moment to speak to them. In a few words, I told them 
Who He was; that He was a very Holy Man who had 
spent many years in exile and prison because of His love 
for Truth and for men, and that now He was on His way 
to speak to the poor men at the Bowery Mission." 

"Can't we go too?" one who seemed to be the leader 
asked. I think that would be impossible, she told them, 
but if you come to my home next Sunday, and she gave 
them the address, I will arrange for you to see Him. So 
here they were. We followed them up the stairs and into 

Portals To Freedom 65 

'Abdu'l-Baha's own room. I was just in time to see the 
last half dozen of the group entering the room. 

'Abdu'1-Baha was standing at the door and He greeted 
each boy as he came in; sometimes with a handclasp, 
sometimes with an arm around a shoulder, but always 
with such smiles and laughter it almost seemed that He 
was a boy with them. Certainly there was no suggestion 
of stiffness on their part, or awkwardness in their unac- 
customed surroundings. Among the last to enter the room 
was a colored lad of about thirteen years. He was quite 
dark and, being the only boy of his race among them, 
he evidently feared that he might not be welcome. When 
'Abdu'1-Baha saw him His face lighted up with a heavenly 
smile. He raised His hand with a gesture of princely wel- 
come and exclaimed in a loud voice so that none could 
fail to hear; that here was a black rose. 

The room fell into instant silence. The black face be- 
came illumined with a happiness and love hardly of this 
world. The other boys looked at him with new eyes. I 
venture to say that he had been called a black many 
things, but never before a black rose. 

This significant incident had given to the whole oc- 
casion a new complexion. The atmosphere of the room 
seemed now charged with subtle vibrations felt by every 
soul. The boys, while losing nothing of their ease and 
simplicity, were graver and more intent upon 'Abdu'l- 
Baha, and I caught them glancing again and again at the 
colored boy with very thoughtful eyes. To the few of the 
friends in the room the scene brought visions of a new 
world in which every soul would be recognized and 

66 Portals To Freedom 

treated as a child of God. I thought: What would happen 
to New York if these boys could carry away such a keen 
remembrance of this experience that throughout their 
lives, whenever they encountered any representatives of 
the many races and colors to be found in that great city, 
they would think of them and treat them as "different 
colored flowers in the Garden of God." The freedom 
from just this one prejudice in the minds and hearts of 
this score or more of souls would unquestionably bring 
happiness and freedom from rancor to thousands of hearts. 
How simple and easy to be kind, I thought, and how 
hardly we learn. 

When His visitors had arrived, 'Abdu'1-Baha had sent 
out for some candy and now it appeared, a great five- 
pound box of expensive mixed chocolates. It was un- 
wrapped and 'Abdu'1-Baha walked with it around the 
circle of boys, dipping His hand into the box and placing 
a large handful in the hands of each, with a word and 
smile for everyone. He then returned to the table at 
which He had been sitting, and laying down the box, 
which now had only a few pieces in it, He picked from 
it a long chocolate nougat; it was very black. He looked 
at it a moment and then around at the group of boys who 
were watching Him intently and expectantly. Withxmt 
a word, He walked across the room to where the colored 
boy was sitting, and, still without speaking, but with a 
humorously piercing glance that swept the group, laid 
the chocolate against the black cheek. His face was 
radiant as He laid His arm around the shoulder of the 
boy and that radiance seemed to fill the room. No words 

To Freedom 67 

were necessary to convey His meaning, and there could 
be no doubt that all the boys caught it. 

You see, He seemed to say, that he is not only a black 
flower, but also a black sweet. You eat black chocolates 
and find them good: perhaps you would find this black 
brother of yours good also if you once taste his sweetness. 

Again that awed hush fell upon the room. Again the 
boys all looked with real wonder at the colored boy as if 
they had never seen him before, which indeed was true. 
And as for the boy himself, upon whom all eyes were now 
fixed, he seemed perfectly unconscious of all but 'Abdu'l- 
Baha. Upon Him his eyes were fastened with an adoring, 
blissful look such as I had never seen upon any face. For 
the moment he was transformed. The reality of his being 
had been brought to the surface and the angel he really 
was revealed. 

I left the house with many deep thoughts crowding 
my heart. Who was this Man? Why did He have such 
power over souls? He made no pretensions of goodness. 
He did not preach; oh, never! Not even by the faintest 
implication did He ever intimate that one should be other- 
wise than what he was: yet somehow He showed us 
worlds of beauty and grandeur which tore our hearts with 
longing to attain, and made us loathe the round of so- 
called life to which we were bound. I did not know what 
to think of it all, but I did know, even then, that I loved 
Him as I had never dreamed of love. I did not believe as 
those around me did. Indeed, I hardly ever thought of 
what their many words concerning His "station" sought 

68 Portals To Freedom 

to convey. I was not interested in that at all, it seems. 
But I certainly did believe that He held a secret of life 
which I would give my life to discover for myself. 

I spent myself in prayer that night. I felt that I had 
never really prayed before. I am not given to what is called 
occult, or mystic experiences, but as I prayed that night 
there were surely Presences in the room. I heard rustlings 
and little whisperings. A new and wonderful world 
opened before me from that night. 

Portals To Freedom 69 

Chapter Five 





"The Word of God is the storehouse of all good, all 
power and all wisdom . . . When man is associated with 
that transcendent Power emanating from the Word of 
God, the tree of his existence becomes so well rooted in 
the soil of assurance that it laughs at the violent hurricanes 
of skepticism which attempt its eradication. For this as- 
sociation of the part with the Whole endows him with 
the Whole; and this union of the particular with the 
Universal makes him all in all." 1 

4 4 T 11 T E should count time by heart throbs." When 
VV I recall that all so far recounted occurred 
within the first three weeks after my meeting with 
'Abdu'1-Baha it seems incredible. In those few days life 
had taken on an entirely new meaning. I felt like a spiritual 
Columbus exploring the uncharted oceans of God. New 

1 'Abdul-Baha. See Baha'i Scriptures, p. 439. 

yo Portals To Freedom 

lands had been discovered upon which I hardly had 
courage to set foot. Heights and depths of inner experi- 
ence had been touched of which heretofore I had never 
dreamed. Truly, many times I had "packed eternity into 
an hour, or stretched an hour to eternity." 

One day about the first of May of that momentous year 
I asked 'Abdu'1-Baha if He could arrange to speak to my 
congregation at the Brotherhood Church. He considered 
a moment, then said smilingly: God willing. This was to 
me a new way of responding to such a request. A ripple 
of wonderment crossed my mind as to how many engage- 
ments for public speakers would be made in our modern 
world if both parties referred the decision to the will of 
God before its ratification. How could I arrange the 
necessary preliminaries on such an uncertainty? How was 
I to know whether God was willing or not? 'Abdu'1-Baha 
noticed my hesitation and waited courteously for me to 
speak. Rather haltingly I said: "It will be necessary for 
me to know the date a few days in advance in order to 
be able to make the necessary public announcements." 

He asked me how long before I would need to know? 

"A week or ten days would be sufficient, I think." 

He said I should ask Him then. 

And so a week later I asked Him if Sunday evening, 
May i pth, would be convenient for Him. He said: Very 
good, and so it was arranged. 

This incident gave me renewed food for thought. I got 
a little glimpse of the Source of the Master's mingled 
relaxation and power. He was never tense or hurried; 

Portals To Freedom 7 1 

never at a loss for word or act. He seldom used the first 
person singular. I have heard Him in His public talks refer 
to 'Abdu'1-Baha as if that person were entirely distinct 
from the speaker. Any reference to the ego, He once re- 
marked to a small group of the New York friends, any 
use of "I," "Me," "Mine," will in the future be con- 
sidered as profanity. 

The phrase "God willing" was constantly upon His 
lips. If one could ask a leaf in the clutch of Autumn winds 
whither it was going, would it not answer, if it could, "I 
know and care not. I go where God's breezes blow me." 
In truth 'Abdu'1-Baha was a "leaf in the breeze of the Will 
of God." Unquestionably this was one of the reasons for 
that atmosphere of majesty which always attended Him, 
and which no one entering His presence could fail to 
note. How natural to be kinglike when One is under the 
immediate inspiration and guidance of the King of kings! 
The gestures, posture, gait of the Master were ever king- 

Mr. Mills, the friend to whose influence and tactfulness 
I am most indebted for my deepening interest, and who 
had been the cause of my first meeting 'Abdu'1-Baha, once 
remarked to me that he had seen only two men of whom 
it could truthfully be said that 'He walks like a king.' 
One was King Edward VII, the other was 'Abdu'1-Baha. 
Yet while the former had been trained from infancy to 
expect deference, obedience, humility from millions of 
subjects, whose allegiance is now transferred to his grand- 
son, the latter from the age of seven years had been trained 
in the glorious school of Martyrdom. Not His had been 

72 Portals To Freedom 

a home in palaces and rest upon beds of ease. Rather, His 
had been the portion of a prisoner and an exile, His bed 
the floor of the prison morgue, which he chose as the only 
place in the fortress where He could be alone and pray, 
His resting place too often the stocks and chains. Yet at 
any moment He could have been free to return to the life 
of wealth and ease to which He had been born, would He 
but renounce His allegiance to Truth and the Glory of 
God (Baha'U'llah) reflected in the earthly Temple of 
His Father. 

"My throne is My mat," He said, "My glorious crown 
is my servitude towards God. My dominion is my 
humility, my submissiveness, my lowliness, my abasement, 
my supplication and my beseeching unto God this is 
that permanent reign which no one is able to dispute, 
gainsay or usurp." 2 

He lived to see many thousands die as martyrs for the 
Truth for which He had sacrificed His life, and millions 
of the living render to him "an homage which kings might 
envy and emperors sigh for in vain." 3 No wonder He 
walked like a king, rather like a King of kings. 

I think it was in connection with the plans for His 
approaching visit to the Brotherhood Church that He said 

2 Bah'i Scrip, p. 460. 

8 Words used by Professor Browne, of Cambridge University, in 
referring to Baha'U'llah. The only European who ever met Him. 

Portals To Freedom 73 

to me one day: that He had noticed that many ministers 
and public speakers prepare their addresses in advance, 
often committing them to memory and speaking the same 
words to many different audiences. He paused and looked 
at me a little humourously, a little sadly, and added: that 
He wondered how they can be sure of what God wants 
them to say until they look into the faces of their people. 

Again had a few simple words been like a searchlight 
turned upon the inner recesses of my heart. The Master 
continued saying that there is no higher function than 
that of a minister of His Holiness the Christ, for his is the 
joy and duty to bring God near to the lives and hearts of 
men. He added that He would pray for me. 

He often said that He would pray for me, and I heard 
Him use these words to many others. What must it have 
meant to the continent of America to have had the prayers 
of the Servant of God rising for its people! His interest 
in, His unbounded love for, the souls of men of every 
degree never flagged or failed. I remember once when I 
was alone with Him and the interpreter, and He had been 
talking for some time on deeply spiritual things, while I, 
silent, was. filled beyond utterance with many thoughts, 
that He urged me to speak, saying I should tell Him all 
that was in my heart; that I must always be sure that 
my joys were His joys, and my sorrows, His sorrows. 

I give His words but no phrasing could convey the 
heavenly smile, the deep glowing eyes, the gentle tone 
that conveyed far more than the words. 

It was about this time that I, one day, asked the Master 
if He would write a few words of dedication in the copy 

74 Portals To Freedom 

of Baha'U'llah's Seven Valleys which the translator 
had given to me and which I treasured much. I have be- 
fore referred to the deep impression which this little book 
made upon me from my very first reading. Since then I 
had gone through it many times, and phrases, sentences, 
whole paragraphs had become familiar to me: outwardly 
familiar, that is, but the deeper meanings, the elusive, 
spiritual, mystic beauty of the Words and the thoughts 
they aroused, stirred an inner depth heretofore un- 
troubled. My heart, too, had become "fascinated by the 
zephyr of assurance wafted upon the garden of my innate 
heart from the Sheba of the Merciful." I, also, had found 
"all the existent beings bewildered in search of the 
Friend," I too was intent on attaining the "Goal of the 
Beloved," and "at every step I found the assistance of 
the Invisible surrounding me and the ardor of my search 
increasing." That "the steed of the Valley of Love is 
pain," I had faintly discerned, and with this discovery had 
also come a faint but blissful certainty that: "Happy is the 
head that is dropped in the dust in the path of His love." 
But, alas, not to me had been given the faintest indica- 
tion of the meaning of the divine words despribing the 
further experience of the traveller on the road "from 
self to God." What was the reality of the experience 
briefly hinted at as "drinking from the Cup of Abstrac- 
tion"; of "hearing with divine ears and gazing on the 
mysteries of the Eternal One with God-like eyes"; of 
"stepping into the Retreat of the Friend and becoming 
an intimate in the Pavilion of the Beloved," and of this 
promise: "He (the traveler) will stretch forth the Hand 
of the True One from the bosom of omnipotence and 

Portals To Freedom 75 

show forth the mysteries of Power"? What was this divine 
world of the Spirit from which Baha'U'llah sought to 
draw the veil? A world so vast, so beautiful, so unimagin- 
able to our poor earth-blinded eyes and minds that even 
He could find no words to make it more than faintly 
discernible, for at times "the pen broke and the paper was 
torn." Or "the ink gave no result but blackness." 4 

Is it any wonder that my very soul was torn with an 
agonized determination to probe such depths of this mys- 
tery as my poor capacity would permit? I was "quaffing 
the seven seas but the thirst of my heart was not allayed." 
Still I was crying: "Is there yet any more? " And so, moved 
by the urgency of such thoughts and aspirations, I turned 
to 'Abdu'1-Baha with a certain conviction that He would 
understand and know that I was, at least, not one of the 
army of autograph seekers. 

He was standing amidst a group of the friends when 
I approached Him but He turned to me with that courte- 
ous simplicity which never failed, and motioned for me 
to speak. I handed Him the little book, and, through the 
interpreter, made my request, adding something of my 
hope to understand more and more of its hidden meanings. 
He smiled rather more gravely than was His wont and 
looked deeply into my eyes for a long moment before 
He signified His assent. 

The next day He handed me the little volume without 
a word. Turning to the fly-leaf I found several lines writ- 
ten in the beautiful copper-plate Persian characters and 
signed by Him. It was accompanied by no English version 

4 See Baha'i Scriptures, pp. 163-65. 

7 6 Portals To Freedom 

so I hurriedly sought the interpreter and asked if he 
would write the translation on the opposite page. 

"Very glad to do so," he answered and started to put 
the book in his pocket, giving no hint as to when I should 
recover it. But this suited my impatient soul not at all. 
"There are only a few lines," I suggested, "can you not 
write the English of it for me now? It will take but a 
moment." And so it was done. We found a little writing 
desk in a retired spot and in a few moments I had the 
precious book again. And this is what I read: 

"O my Lord! Confirm this revered personage, that he 
may attain the Essential Purpose; travel in these Seven 
Valleys; enter the silent chamber of realities and sig- 
nificances, and enter the Kingdom of Mysteries. 

Verily, Thou art the Confirmer, the Helper, the Kind." 
(signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha Abbas. 

Again He had shown an understanding of my inmost 
heart. What this prayer for my attainment to the "Essen- 
tial Purpose" has meant to me through all these years no 
words can depict. Here, indeed, "the ink gives no result 
but blackness." 

A few days before the Sunday when 'Abdu'1-Baha was 
to speak in the Brotherhood Church I was riding in the 
trolley car on my way to Newark, on some business con- 
nected with the building of my church edifice. As usual 

Portals To Freedom 77 

I had with me one of the books pertaining to the Baha'i 
Faith which had come to occupy my every thought. On 
this occasion I was reading the volume, Some Answered 
Questions, in which 'Abdu'1-Baha discusses some of the 
most vital matters pertaining to the spiritual life, mainly 
from the standpoint of the Christian tradition. Sitting 
beside me in the car was a young woman whose eyes, I 
noted, were straying interestedly toward the book I was 
reading. Obligingly I moved the book slightly toward 
her and so together we read those marvellously illuminat- 
ing explanations for the hour-and-a-half ride to Newark. 
No word was spoken but I could feel that she was deeply 
stirred. When we reached the city and I closed the volume 
she said: "I think that is the most wonderful book I ever 
saw. Won't you tell me, please, who is the author?" So I 
told her of 'Abdu'1-Baha; of His long years of exile and 
imprisonment for the sake of His love of Truth; of His 
visit to America and that He was to speak in my church 
in Jersey City the following Sunday evening. She said: 
"I will surely be there." She was there. I saw her in the 
audience and spoke to her after the meeting. I have often 
wondered since whether that spark became a flame. 

Perhaps it may be helpful at this time to speak of the 
effects which the mere reading of these divine Words has 
produced in my own life, and the lives of many others to 
whom I have been privileged to introduce this new 
Revelation of the Eternal Logos. Over and over again I 
have seen hearts illumined and lives transformed by 
merely reading a few passages from The Hidden Words, 
or the Tablet to the Pope, or The Book of Certitude, or 

78 P0rta/j' To Freedom 

the Surat-l-Hykl* or, in fact, from any of the books 
opened at random. Through these Words, indeed, "Flows 
the River of Divine Knowledge and bursts the Fire of 
the Consummate Wisdom of the Eternal." 6 For some- 
thing like five years after meeting the Master I literally 
read nothing else. I crossed the continent twice during 
those years and carried with me a satchel filled with these 
books and typed copies of Tablets, which I studied con- 
stantly on the train and elsewhere. I became soaked in the 
"Oceans of Divine Utterance." To this one fact alone, ac- 
companied with constant prayer, may be ascribed what- 
ever slight progress may have been made in the Pathway 
of Eternal Life. The heavenly Significances, these "pearls 
hidden in the depths of the Ocean of His Verses," have 
opened portals to a freedom of mind and spirit such as no 
writings of human genius have ever bestowed. That there 
is a Power flowing from these Words capable of bestow- 
ing "a new life of faith" there has to me been abundant 

I remember a sincere soul of great capacity saying to 
me during the early days of her immersion in this Ocean 
of Revelation: "I defy anyone to study these Words with 
sincerity and prayerful selflessness for even such a short 
period as two weeks and not be assured that Baha'U'llah 
speaks with more than human tongue." 

In seeking the reason for this power I found it in Baha- 
'U'llah's own explanation. In the Book of Certitude He 
says that in the meeting with the Manifestation the Meet- 
ing with God is attained; that after the departure from 
this world this Meeting is assured through the meeting 

6 Books written by Baha'U'llah. 
Baha'U'llah-- Book of Certitude. 

Portals To Freedom 79 

with His disciples, or "Family," and that after their de- 
parture this Meeting is only possible through the inspired 
Words He left to the world for the guidance and illumina- 
tion of these who turn to Him. 

I probed deeper, seeking practical understanding. What 
could this "Meeting with God" mean in terms of human 
living? I thought to myself: When I read Emerson or 
Browning sympathetically and understandingly do I not 
"meet" these great souls in the realm of their world? If 
that meeting brings to the reader such new, high and 
lofty thoughts, such soaring ideals, such a change of view- 
point and such pure resolves what must be the effect 
upon the aspiring soul when it "meets" the Holy Spirit 
of God through reverent perusal of the Words of His 
Manifestation! I began to experience a little, at least, of 
the divine meaning underlying such phrases as: "You 
must soar in the atmosphere of My Knowledge"; "Be- 
come intoxicated with the wine of My Verses"; "Attain 
to My Supreme Paradise, the station of revelation and 
vision before the Throne of My Grandeur." 7 

Not to the casual reader is this "meeting" vouchsafed. 
One must hold his breath and dive dive deep, if the pearls 
of those depths are sought. But to those who, leaving all 
their earthly garments behind, take that selfless plunge, 
abandoning all else save Him, such a new and heavenly 
world is revealed that all verbal portrayal is beggared. 
A single letter of these divine words is indeed, as Baha- 
'U'llah has said, "greater than the creation of the heavens 
and the earth, for they quicken the dead in the valley of 
self and desire by the spirit of faith." 8 

7 See Baha'i Scriptures, p. 246 top. 

8 Book of Certitude, p. 209, by Baha'U'llah. 

8o Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Six 


"The Prophets of God have established the principles of 
human brotherhood. The spiritual brotherhood, which is 
enkindled and established through the breaths of the Holy 
Spirit, unites nations and removes the cause of warfare 
and strife. It transforms mankind into one great family 
and establishes the foundations of the oneness of human- 
ity. Therefore we must investigate the foundation reality 
of this heavenly fraternity." 

See Promulgation of Universal Peace. Vol. i, pp. 140-41. 

ON the nineteenth of May, 1912, 'Abdu'1-Baha spoke 
on Brotherhood in the Brotherhood Church in 
Jersey City. At that time I was the unsalaried minister 
of that body of men and women come together sponta- 
neously in the endeavor to foster the spirit of brotherhood 
and service. Only five weeks had elapsed since my first 
meeting with the Master. The 23rd of May, only four 

Portals To Freedom 81 

days later, marked the birthday of Him Who addressed 
us. The same day was also the 68th anniversary of the 
announcement by the youthful Persian Prophet, the Bab, 
Who declared that within nineteen years from that date 
there should appear "Him Whom God should Manifest/' 
The Bab was also one of this long line of earthly Mani- 
festations of the Supreme One, but He said that He was 
not worthy to be mentioned in the Presence of Him 
Whose Divine Word was destined to sway mankind for 
thousands of years to come. 

As I look back over the twenty-five years that have 
passed since that evening it stirs the imagination to con- 
sider what would have happened if the five or six hundred 
souls there gathered to hear speak the very son of Baha- 
'U'llah, the Glory of God, to announce the coming of 
whom that divine youth, the Bab, had sacrificed his life; 
at whose feet this son, at the age of seven years, had fallen 
in adoration, now stood before them. If we, brought up 
in the Christian tradition, could have realized that this 
very man Who since birth had lived with, been taught by, 
exiled and imprisoned with, the One for Whose coming 
Christ had besought us to pray and watch; if we could 
have recognized in Him the first citizen of that Kingdom 
of God on earth, and if we also had had the faith and 
courage to leave all and follow Him as did those sincere 
souls almost two thousand years ago under exactly similar 
conditions, consider the possible effect upon those lives 
and the thousands of lives they were destined to affect 
during the twenty-five years that have passed since then. 

Also, how blind and deaf we were. No wonder that 
Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Blessed indeed were those in 

Portals To Freedom 

that audience, and there were some, whose eyes were 
open to perceive that Glory and whose ears were attuned 
to hear the music of that Divine Voice. Why this writer 
should have been one of those alert enough to appreciate, 
even a little, this supreme light, and to follow, however 
haltingly, those divine feet, he has never understood. It is 
ever the pure bounty of God. But how thankful he is that 
it is so. Indeed "souls are perturbed as they make men- 
tion of Him, for minds cannot grasp Him nor hearts 
contain Him." I 

It was an impressive, even to me a thrilling sight when 
the majestic figure of the Master strode up the aisle of the 
Brotherhood Church leading the little company of be- 
lievers from various parts of the world. As memory now 
takes its backward look I realize how little I understood 
at that time the full significance of that memorable scene. 
Here, in a setting of Western civilization, almost two 
thousand years from the dawn of Christian teaching, stood 
One whose Life and Word were the very embodiment of 
the essence of the message of good-will to all peoples 
which those nations which bear His name had seemingly 
forgotten. Here stood the living proof of the falsity of the 
assumption that East and West can never meet. Here was 
martyrdom for Truth and Love speaking lovingly and 
humbly to souls engrossed with self and who knew it 
not. Here stood the embodied spirit of Holiness again 
uttering the eternal message of Brotherhood, Here was 
resurrection and life again calling to those dead in the 

i Hidden Words by Baha'U'liah. 

Portals To Freedom 83 

tombs of self and desire to come forth, and we recognized 
not His voice. 

But to all such thoughts I, like most of the audience, 
was a stranger. Yet there was in that hall that evening an 
atmosphere of spiritual reality foreign to its past. It bore 
upon me almost unbearably and was reflected in the faces 
of many turned upon me as I rose to preface the talk 
of the Master with a few words of introduction. I can 
still see before me the rapt face of Lua Getsinger, one of 
the first of American believers in the divine revelation of 
Baha'U'llah, as her unwavering gaze dwelt upon 'Abdu'l- 
Baha, and the faces of many others in the audience bore 
similar evidence to the unaccustomed atmosphere of holi- 
ness invading their souls. 

'Abdu'1-Baha sat in the place of honor immediately 
behind the pulpit. Beside him sat the interpreter, who, as 
I spoke, translated rapidly and softly to 'Abdu'1-Baha the 
essence of my words. I stood at one side of the platform 
so not to be in front of the Master and able to turn towards 
Him at times. One of my keenest remembrances of the 
evening is that of His attentive, smiling face while the in- 
terpreter murmured his rendering. I spoke of His forty 
years in the fortress of 'Akka, that indescribably filthy 
penal colony of the Turkish empire; of His sixty years 
of exile and suffering; of the living proof He afforded 
that the only bondage is that of the spirit; of the evidence 
His presence with us that evening furnished of true spirit- 
ual brotherhood and unity. I remember particularly turn- 
ing to Him apologetically as I made the personal reference 
to the fact that whereas other Easterners came to America 
exploiting its people in the name of oriental mysticism, 

84 Portals To Freedom 

His message bore the living imprint of self-sacrificing love. 
He gave while others grasped. He manifested what others 
mouthed. And more clearly still do I see before me that 
calmly smiling face, the glowing eyes, the understanding 
gaze with which He returned my glance. 

Then 'Abdu'1-Baha rose to speak. The interpreter stood 
beside Him, a little behind." "Because this is called the 
Church of Brotherhood I wish to speak upon the Brother- 
hood of Mankind." As that beautifully resonant voice 
rang through the room, accenting with an emphasis I 
had never before heard the word Brotherhood, shame 
crept into my heart. Surely this Man recognized connota- 
tions to that word which I, who had named the church, 
had never known. Who was I to stress this word? What 
had I ever done besides talk to prove my faith in it as a 
principle of life? Had I ever suffered a pang as its ex- 
ponent? But this man had lived a long life in which 
brotherhood to all mankind had been a ruling motive. 
Prison nor chains; toil nor privation; hatred nor con- 
tumely had been able to turn Him from his appointed 
task of its exemplification, or to lessen the ardor of His 
proof that it was a possible goal for the race of Man. 
To Him all races, colors, creeds were as one. To Him 
prejudice for or against a soul because of outward wealth 
or poverty, sin or virtue, was unknown. He was at every 
moment what in one of His divine Tablets He has told 
vis we all must be, a "thrall of mankind." 

As I write there is brought to memory a story told by 
Lua Getsinger, she who then sat in the audience before 
me. In the very early days of the knowledge of the Cause 

2 See Promulgation of Univ. Peace, pp. 125-28, Vol. i. 


Washington, D. C., 1912 

Portals To Freedom 85 

of Baha'U'llah in America Mrs. Getsinger was in 'Akka 
having made the pilgrimage to the prison city to see the 
Master. She was with Him one day when he said to her, 
that He was too busy today to call upon a friend of His 
who was very ill and poor and He wished her to go in 
His place. Take him food and care for him as I have been 
doing, He concluded. He told her where this man was to 
be found and she went gladly, proud that 'Abdul-Baha 
should trust her with this mission. 

She returned quickly. "Master," she exclaimed, "surely 
you cannot realize to what a terrible place you sent me. 
I almost fainted from the awful stench, the filthy rooms, 
the degrading condition of that man and his house. I fled 
lest I contract some terrible disease." 

Sadly and sternly 'Abdu'1-Baha regarded her. "Dost 
thou desire to serve God," He said, "serve thy fellow man 
for in him dost thou see the image and likeness of God." 3 
He told her to go back to this man's house. If it is filthy 
she should clean it; if this brother of yours is dirty, bathe 
him; if he is hungry, feed him. Do not return until this is 
done. Many times had He done this for him and cannot 
she serve him once? 

This was He who was speaking in my Church of 

He spoke of the contrast between physical and spiritual 
brotherhood, pointing out that the latter was the only 
real and lasting relationship. "This divine fellowship," He 
said, "owes its existence to the breaths of the Holy Spirit. 
Spiritual brotherhood is like the light while the souls of 

8 Divine Art of Living, p. 115. 

86 Portals To Freedom 

mankind are as lanterns. These incandescent lamps," 
pointing to the electric lights illuminating the hall, "are 
many but the light is one." He spoke of the influence 
Baha'U'llah exerted in bringing amity and friendship 
into some of the warring and antagonistic peoples and 
religions of the Orient. 

"He breathed such a spirit into those countries," he 
said, "that various peoples and warring tribes were 
blended into unity. Their bestowals and susceptibilities; 
their purposes and desires became one to such a degree 
that they sacrificed themselves for one another, forfeiting 
name, possessions and comfort. This is eternal, spiritual 
fellowship, heavenly and divine brotherhood which defies 
dissolution. 4 

This was, indeed, a new type of brotherhood. Not a 
fraternal partnership, so to speak, which had as its objec- 
tive a mutual sharing of the good things of the world more 
easily attained and more safely held by reason of this 
partnership. But rather a re-birth of man through a new 
baptism of the Holy Spirit, who by this rebirth found 
themselves actually conscious of a heavenly, spiritual, 
divine kinship which transcended any earthly relationship 
as the music of the spheres transcended earth's dis- 

And as I gazed at the Master as I faced Him from 
the audience, it was not so difficult to imagine a world 
transformed by the spirit of divine brotherhood. For He 
Himself was that spirit incarnate. His flowing 'aba, His 
creamlike fez, His silvery hair and beard, all set Him 

4 Promulgation of Univ. Peace, pp. 125-26. 

Portals To Freedom 87 

apart from the Westerners, to whom He spake. But His 
srnile which seemed to embrace us with an overflowing 
comradeship; His eyes which flashed about the room as 
if seeking out each individual; His gestures which com- 
bined such authority and humility; such wisdom and 
humor, all conveyed to me, at least, a true human brother- 
hood which could never be content with plenty while 
the least of these little ones had less than enough, and yet 
still less content until all had that divine plenty only to be 
bestowed through the breaths of the Holy Spirit, that is, 
by contact with the Manifestation of God. He closed 
with the following words, as recorded in the first volume 
of The Promulgation of Universal Peace: 

"Trust in the favor of God. Look not at your own 
capacities, for the divine bestowals can transform a drop 
into an ocean; it can make a tiny seed a lofty tree. 
Verily divine bestowals are like the sea and we are like 
the fishes in that sea. The fishes must not look at them- 
selves. They must behold the ocean which is vast and 
wonderful. Provision for the sustenance of all is in this 
ocean, therefore the divine bounties encompass all and 
love eternal shines upon all." 

It was one of the briefest of 'Abdu'l-Baha's public 
talks. The latter part, as recorded in The Promulgation of 
Universal Peace, was in answer to a question from the 
audience, which was a departure from the usual custom. 

Portals To Freedom 

I had requested of the Master that He speak rather 
longer than was His wont as I had the universal obsession 
that the worth of an address was in proportion to its 
length. That He spoke so briefly was undoubtedly with 
the endeavor to illustrate to me that a very few words, 
inspired by the Holy Spirit and aglow with wisdom celes- 
tial, were vastly more powerful than all the volumes of 
man-made sermons ever printed. 

That I should have had the temerity to make such a 
request of Him again illustrates how far removed I still 
was from recognition of His station; nay from any true 
understanding of spiritual reality. I, even now, only dimly 
realize it and I suspect that the vast majority of my fellow 
men share with me this abysmal ignorance. Baha'U'llah 
has said that compared to the wonders and glories of the 
spiritual universe the material universe is comparable to 
"the pupil of the eye of a dead ant." And I had requested 
this Man, to Whom that universe of the spirit was as an 
open book, to make His talk of a length suitable to my 
own desires. And He had in fifteen minutes said more, 
and shown forth more, and loved more of the true 
Brotherhood, the heavenly and divine Brotherhood, which 
could transform this world into a paradise, than I had ever 

How blind and deaf we are! And what a fearful price 
the world is paying for this imperviousness to that "Light 
which lighteth every man who cometh into the world!" 

On May 24th, five days after He spoke in the Brother- 
hood Church, 'Abdu'1-Baha addressed the assembled min- 
isters at the annual May Meeting of the Unitarian Fellow- 

Portals To Freedom 89 

ship in Boston. Present were the representatives of the 
Unitarian Faith in America, an intellectual group hold- 
ing, probably, the most "advanced" opinions in religious 
thought in the country. Yet He spoke to deaf ears. "A 
very interesting old gentleman," several remarked to me 
afterwards, u but he told us nothing new." 

This was typical of most of the audiences He addressed. 
Truly, "having ears we heard not." I would suggest that 
the reader of these words again peruse that Boston address 
as found in the first volume of The Promulgation of Uni- 
versal Peace, page 138, as I have just done, and determine 
for himself whether anything "new" is to be found there. 
"The divineProphets have revealed and founded religion." 
'Abdu'1-Baha said. This may not be new in the sense that 
this teaching had never been formulated, but to this Bos- 
ton audience which had unanimously, not to say enthu- 
siastically, rejected all belief in a revealed religion it was 
fundamentally new because the Speaker was actually the 
physical son of the latest of these divine Prophets who had 
lived and taught, suffered and died during the lifetime of 
some of His listeners. 'Abdu'l-Baha's whole address was 
directed to calling attention to the fact that the tree of 
religion grows old and withers like any tree, and that 
unless a new Tree is planted from the seed of the old, 
true religion perishes from the earth. His audience was 
composed of men and women whose lives were dedicated 
to an attempt to revive this withered and dying tree, 
and they were watering it, not with the "water of certi- 
tude" which flows only from the Lips of the divine 
Revelator Himself, but with man-made theories and 
theologies which, as their own experience should have 

90 Portals To Freedom 

taught them, they are forced to renounce almost as soon 
as accepted. "Nothing new!" Had they known how this 
News was destined to revolutionize the world of thought 
and action; how it was to arouse in mankind a new passion 
for unity and brotherhood; how it was destined to be the 
moving spirit behind all efforts towards the abolition of 
war, poverty, disease and crime; how men's hearts would 
be aroused to a new life by the breaths of Its Holy 
Spirit; how all human life would take on a new meaning, 
significance and power, His hearers would have tran- 
scribed His divine Words "with a pen of diamond on a 
page of gold." 

To me 'Abdu'l-Baha's talk in the Brotherhood Church 
and the address before the Unitarian Conference in Boston 
marked a new phase in my spiritual journey from self to 
God. I had heard several of His public addresses before 
but never had I been near enough to Him to mark closely 
His demeanor. For it was not only His words, not nearly 
so much His accents and voice which now impressed me. 
There lay in His eyes a living flame which seemed to 
ignite a smouldering spark within me. Perhaps I can ex- 
press my meaning best by relating an incident. 

At one of the meetings at the home of the friends to 
whom I have often referred where the Master spent much 
of His time in New York, there was present a lady who 
was not, and never became an avowed believer. But her 
heart was pure. She loved Christ and strove to follow His 
divine teachings. The large double rooms were filled with 
the friends and attracted souls. A lane had been left open 
stretching the full length of both rooms, and, as the Master 

Portals To Freedom 91 

spoke, He strode up and down the rooms while the inter- 
preter stood near me translating fluently. This lady sat 
enthralled. When 'Abdu'1-Baha came striding towards us 
with that indescribable grace and majesty, His hands 
gesturing rhythmically with an upward, inspiring sig- 
nificance which I have seen in no other speaker, and His 
eyes glowing with an inner light illumining every feature, 
she was overcome with emotion. 

Several months afterwards I was talking with a close 
friend of this soul and she asked me about 'Abdu'1-Baha, 
whom she had never seen. "He must be a very wonderful 

man from what says," she remarked, mentioning the 

name of the woman, "she tried to tell me about him and 
could hardly speak for tears. I said to her: 'Why, my 
dear, what was there so wonderful about this man?' All 
she could say was: 'Oh, you should have seen Him. You 
should have seen Him!" 

Indeed to have seen Him was enough providing that 
the spark ignited in the soul was fanned to flame by medi- 
tation and selfless prayer. Never can I be thankful enough 
that I became ignited with this Flame. It was about this 
time, seven weeks after meeting 'Abdu'1-Baha, that I 
began to say a little hymn to myself: "If every drop of 
my blood had a million tongues and every tongue sang 
praises throughout eternity sufficient thanksgiving could 
not be uttered." 

9* _ Port als To Freedom _ 

Chapter Seven 

Marriage Under the World Order of Bahd 'U'llah 


"It is therefore evident that in the world of humanity 
the greatest king and sovereign is love. If love were 

extinguished, the power of attraction dispelled, the 

affinity of human hearts destroyed, the phenomena of 

human life would disappear." 


See Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. 2, pp. 249-51. 

IN tracing the development of the institution of mar- 
riage it is interesting to note that the progressive steps, 
from the promiscuity of the earliest history of mankind 
to the more or less monogamous ordinance now in vogue 
in most civilized countries, have been in direct ratio to the 
ethical and spiritual development of the race. Moreover 
this development has paralleled the appearance and teach- 

Portals To Freedom 93 

ings of the great Prophets and Messengers of God to 

What little is known of the matrimonial relations and 
customs of the various peoples before the coming of 
Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad indicates much 
looser and more unethical relations than obtained after 
their teaching. 

One might reasonably expect, therefore, that the reve- 
lation of Baha'U'llah and its exemplification by 'Abdu'l- 
Baha, in dealing with this subject, would lay down laws 
and prescribe regulations founded upon eternal spiritual 
principles and adapted to the needs of a world civilization 
far in advance of any hitherto practiced. 

For the teachings of Baha'U'llah deal primarily with 
the Reality of man, and his station as an immortal and 
eternal being in an infinite universe governed and sup- 
ported by immutable laws based upon righteousness and 

Marriage, then, under the Baha'i regime, is an eternal 
bond. It allows for only one real marriage, and this union 
continues throughout all the worlds of God. 

This assumption makes necessary an entirely new 
regulation of both marriage and divorce. For, since man 
is still in the age of immaturity, and is still influenced by 
desire and passion, many mistakes will be made in the 
selection of a mate, and these mistakes must be rectified 
as quickly and as simply as possible. 

For two souls to live together under an enforced union 
in which harmony, cooperation, happiness and true 
eternal love have become impossible, is a defiance of a basic 
law in the Baha'i revelation, the Law of Unity. It is not 

94 Portals To Freedom 

only allowable but imperative that such false union be dis- 
solved. This necessity will probably be extremely rare as 
the race comes more and more under the influence of the 
whole range of the Divine Teachings. For once man 
realizes the supreme joy of true physical and spiritual 
union he will be content with nothing less. Moreover, 
Baha'U'llah has framed such safeguarding laws, and 
'Abdu'1-Baha has explained them so fully, that public 
opinion will tend more and more to enforce their obedi- 
ence as experience proves their efficacy in securing and 
perpetuating human happiness. 

When 'Abdu'1-Baha was in this country in 1912 He 
took occasion more than once to emphasize the sacred- 
ness of the marriage bond, and to illustrate by precept 
and example the attitude incumbent upon the Baha'is in 
its observance. 

The most notable of these occasions was the wedding 
ceremony on July iyth 1912 in which Harlan Ober and 
Grace Robarts were united by 'Abdu'1-Baha Himself in 
accordance with the law of Baha'U'llah. 

'Abdu'1-Baha suggested that I should assist Him by 
performing the necessary legal ceremony in order: "That 
all should be done in accordance with the law of the land." 

It is not an easy task to present to minds obsessed with 
the conception of this world and its affairs as complete in 
itself rather than as an ante-room to a larger, freer life, 
a scene in which the dominant note was Eternity; the very 
atmosphere charged with an expansive freedom and 

As my eyes took in that long, beautifully furnished 

Portals To Freedom 95 

room, speaking of all that related to our modern culture, 
yet holding within its walls representatives of Paris; 
Berlin; London; Tihran and Ghom, Persia; Bombay, 
India; Baku, Russia; and Haifa, Palestine; quite a number 
of representatives of the black race, and about one hun- 
dred of my own countrymen, a conviction was borne in 
upon me that I was taking part in a truly epoch-making 

For here was, to all intents and purposes, a gathering 
of representatives of the whole world, and of every de- 
gree of poverty and affluence; of culture and its lack; of 
every range of spiritual capacity. 

Here indeed the East and West were gathered together 
to witness a prefigurement, a symbol, a prognosis of a 
fundamental detail of the coming social order under the 
World Plan of Baha'U'llah, the Kingdom of God upon 

Dominating the scene was the white-robed figure of 
the Master. From the age of seven He has been addressed 
and spoken of by this title. Baha'U'llah Himself indicated 
his wish that so He should be addressed. 

His right to the title did not rest upon any assumption 
by Himself of authority or precedence. His whole bear- 
ing was ever that of humility and gentle deference. Yet 
in every home He entered He was the host, in every 
gathering the center; in every discussion the arbiter; to 
every problem the answer. 

Nor was it so because He wished or willed it so to be. 
On the contrary when He was asked to act as honorary 
chairman of the New York Baha'i Assembly, (one of the 

96 Portals To Freedom 

72 incipient Houses of Justice in this country which, 
in the future will form the units of community govern- 
ment under the Plan of Baha'U'llah) , He calmly and de- 
cisively replied that " 'Abdu'1-Baha is a servant." 

Nevertheless one could not be in His Presence more 
than a few moments without realizing that His every act, 
tone, gesture, word was so imbued with wisdom, courage, 
and tranquil certitude, combined with such humble con- 
sideration of His interlocutor, that conclusive Truth was 
conveyed to every beholder and listener. As 'Abdu'l- 
Baha has said referring to Baha'U'llah when confronting 
His deniers and opposers: "How can darkness assert itself 
in the Presence of Light? Can a fly attack an eagle? Or 
the shadow defy the sun?" 

And so, in this gathering of souls believing in a new 
era of human consciousness; a new epoch in which that 
consciousness should merge into the divine, we looked to 
Him as to the Master of our destinies, as the One Leader 
who, in this time of ancient superstitions and modern 
follies, knew the way out of the human labyrinth into the 
glorious freedom of the children of God. 

I sat very near Him, and, naturally, my every faculty, 
eye, ear, mind and heart were centered upon that radiant 
Personality. Nor was I alone in this. There was but One 
worthy of attention when He was present; but One 
wholly satisfying. 

After the simple wedding ceremony and the bride and 
groom had resumed their seats, 'Abdu'1-Baha rose. His 
cream-colored 'aba fell in graceful folds to His feet. Upon 

Portals To Freedom 97 

His head he wore a tarboosh, or fez, of the same color, 
beneath which His long white hair fell almost to His 
shoulders. Most impressive of all His impressive aspects 
were His eyes. Blue they were but so changing with His 
mood! Now gentle and appealing, now commanding, now 
flashing with hidden fires, now holding a deep, tranquil 
lambent repose as though gazing upon scenes of glory far 

His brow above those wide-set eyes was like an ivory 
dome. His neatly clipped beard, snowy white, touched 
His breast, but around His mouth no straggling hairs 
obscured the mobile lips. 

He spoke through an interpreter, as was His custom, 
not so much because He could not use English, as that 
it was wise to guard against possible mis-quotation. Every 
word He uttered while in America was transcribed as it 
fell from His lips by a Persian secretary, in that language, 
and also by an American stenographer as the interpreter 
followed. So that in future ages, when the thousands of 
writings and addresses of Baha'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha 
are translated and codified, there may never be any ques- 
tion as to the actual words and their connotation. 

He swept the room with a glance at once enfolding and 
abstracted. He raised His hands, palm upwards, level with 
His waist, His eyes closed and He chanted a prayer for 
the souls united by Him and by me. By Him that morning 
according to the Laws of the New World Order in which 
the spirit of man is to be trained to function harmoniously 
with its brief material environment; by me this evening as 
the representative of the passing regime in which ancient 
superstitions and outworn shibboleths often tinge the most 

98 Portals To Freedom 

sacred observances, yet which, being customary, are to 
be observed "lest offense be given to any soul." 

This prayer of 'Abdu'1-Baha, chanted in tones to me 
unequalled in all experience, mellifluous (honey-like), is 
the nearest descriptive word, but how inadequate, is the 
keenest of all my memories of that evening. 

In spite of the fact that the language was Persian, and 
so, of course, unfamiliar to me, the impression I received 
was that of understanding. 

So vivid was this that the interpreter's translation came 
as a shock. What need to translate language addressed to 
the spirit? A flash of comprehension came to me. Perhaps 
here was the explanation of the incident recorded of that 
far-off Day of Pentecost when each listener to the words 
of the disciples heard his own tongue. 

There is a story told of an illiterate miner who made a 
long journey on foot to meet 'Abdu'1-Baha when He was 
in San Francisco, which further illustrates the same spirit- 
ual phenomenon. This man, though uneducated, had great 
spiritual capacity. He attended a meeting at which 
'Abdu'1-Baha spoke. He seemed enthralled as the meas- 
ured, bell-like tones fell from the Master's lips. When the 
interpreter took up the passage in English this miner 
started as if awakening. "Why does that man interrupt?" 
He whispered. Then again 'Abdu'1-Baha spoke, and again 
the visitor was lost in attention. Again the interpreter 
translated as the speaker paused. At this the miner's in- 
dignation was aroused. "Why do they let that man inter- 
rupt? He should be put out." 

"He is the official interpreter," one sitting beside him 
explained. "He translates the Persian into English." 

Portals To Freedom 99 

"Was He speaking in Persian?" was the naive answer, 
"Why anyone could understand that." 

As for me: my heart was certainly moved far more 
by the chanting Voice and the flowing, musical periods, 
than by the interpreter's version of the wedding prayer, 
beautiful as it is. 

"Glory be unto Thee, O my God! Verily this Thy 
servant and this Thy maid-servant have gathered under 
the shadow of Thy Mercy and they are united through 
Thy Favor and Generosity. O Lord! Assist them in this 
Thy world and Thy Kingdom, and destine for them 
every good through Thy bounty and Grace. 

"Cause them to become the signs of harmony and 
unity until the end of time. Verily Thou art the Omnip- 
otent, the Omnipresent and the Almighty!" 

As intimated (p. 93), marriage under the World Order 
of Baha'U'llah is based upon a far nobler conception of 
Man's destiny than ever before. This is because under the 
1900 years of Christian teaching the spiritual capacity of 
the race has developed to a point where such conception 
of Man's station is at least comprehensible. 

The object of the coming of the Manifestations of God 
is none other than the raising of man's consciousness to a 
higher level. This is one of the meanings of "Heaven" as 
used by the prophets of God.* It is that state of conscious- 
ness to which the teachings of the eternal Christ spirit, no 

*See Book of Certitude by Baha'U'llah, p. 61. 

ioo Portals To Freedom 

matter under what name He rises upon the horizon of 
history, exalts the spirit of the true believer. 

It is essential, then, that under each new dispensation 
the eternal principles, reiterated by each Messenger of 
God, should be so clarified and explained that they will 
apply effectively to the problems of the new day. So when 
Jesus appeared He abrogated the Mosaic Law regarding 
divorce, which, while perfectly adapted to the nomadic 
life of the Hebrews and to their background of centuries 
of slavery under Egypt, had become subject to such abuse 
under the changed conditions of the Roman environment, 
and the sacerdotalism of the Pharisee and priest, as to 
become a mockery. 

It is plain that at this time the same observance of the 
letter of Christ's teachings on this subject prevails, and 
total neglect of the spirit. In America, supposedly a Chris- 
tian social order, the marriage bond is regarded with less 
sacredness than in any other country in the world. In 
1930, the latest census, there was one divorce to every 
six marriages. And who can number the infringements 
of the wedding vow; the hatreds in the home; the broken 
family circles, which never reached the divorce court? 
Plainly this is an intolerable condition. If it were to con- 
tinue unchecked it might well result in a complete break- 
ing down of family life and the utter destruction of the 
institution of marriage. Indeed this social breakdown has 
already begun in Russia, and is threatened in one or two 
other countries. And what is becoming known as "free 
love" and "companionate marriage" is obtaining recogni- 
tion in some of our own educational institutions and 

Portals To Freedom 101 

actually taught as the only solution of the spreading 

This problem is so momentous, its solution so fraught 
with danger or safety to the destinies of the race, that this 
servant of the Glory of God has gathered all the available 
information possible on the subject and presents the actual 
wording of Baha'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha, in order that 
the reader may judge for himself whether, if and when 
these Divine Laws become operative, a happier social 
order would result. 

In the first place it must constantly be borne in mind 
that Baha'U'llah envisages a 'world unity; a 'world order. 
It assumes, moreover, the close association of man with 
God, and presumes the assistance of the Supreme World, 
the Holy Spirit, in the establishment of this Order. 

Thus, in the conception of the Kingdom of God on 
earth, Baha'U'llah sees as accomplished the unity of all 
races and peoples; the abolition of all prejudice; an in- 
herent and passionate love for Truth, no matter from what 
source it comes, and the spread of basic education in these 
laws to all peoples. 

Thus He has generalized broadly, encompassing the 
problems of East and West; of North and South, leaving 
to the International House of Justice the application of 
these principles as special and individual problems arise. 

If the reader will bear this in mind, and make every 
effort to disabuse himself of the very natural prejudices he 
may have entertained, it will be much easier for him to 

102 Portals To Freedom 

appreciate the wisdom of Baha'U'llah's Plan for a New 
World Order. 

This is not an easy task to set oneself, for man naturally 
tends to accept as fixed the conventions and usages obtain- 
ing at that moment of History in which he has happened 
to appear upon the planet. But to do this is to disregard all 
the records of the past, which indicate most clearly the 
inevitable mutation or abolition of all human institutions, 
and the general tendency, throughout the ages, to sim- 
plify, purify and ennoble them. The destiny of the race is 
very high, and even the Laws of Baha'U'llah are not 
proposed as final. The next thousand or ten thousand 
years will witness still further advances by mankind along 
the path to the divine perfection to which all the Prophets 
of God have summoned him. "Ye must be perfect, even 
as your Father in Heaven is perfect." 

At this stage in the development of the race the Laws 
promulgated by Baha'U'llah assuredly seem to meet most 
adequately the needs of men taken as a whole. To those 
who study the writings of Baha'U'llah, paying due at- 
tention to the claim of majestic authority involved, these 
sublime Words calling man to participate in a social order 
far higher than that ever envisaged in the past, can hardly 
fail to stimulate a dawning hope, revive a failing courage 
and again set ablaze the fire of the love of God in cooling 

Bearing all this in mind let us endeavor to approach the 
subject of marriage relations, as taught by Baha'U'llah, 
with the thoughtful consideration, if not reverence, due 
any teacher who, for the sake of the Message which He 
was convinced He bore for men, suffering every indignity, 

Portals To Freedom 103 

humiliation and torture which the ingenuity of two cruel 
rulers and their peoples, the Shah of Persia and the Sultan 
of Turkey, could over a period of forty years, inflict 
upon Him. 

That the reader may receive an idea of the claim put 
forth by Baha'U'llah regarding the Source of His au- 
thority and the objectives towards which He urges 
humanity, the following paragraph is quoted from His 
writings lately translated by His great-grandson, Shoghi 
Effendi, the first Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. 

"The first duty prescribed by God for His servants 
is the recognition of Him Who is the Day-Spring of His 
Revelation and the Fountain of His Laws, Who repre- 
senteth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause 
and the world of creation. . . . They whom God hath 
endued with insight will readily recognize that the pre- 
cepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for 
the maintenance of order in the world and the security 
of its peoples. He that turneth away from them is ac- 
counted among the abject and foolish. We verily have 
commanded you to refuse the dictates of your evil pas- 
sions and corrupt desires, and not to transgress the bounds 
which the Pen of the Most High hath fixed, for these are 
the breath of life unto all created beings. The seas of 
Divine Wisdom and divine utterance have risen under the 
breath of the breeze of the All-Merciful. Hasten to drink 
your fill, O men of understanding." * 

1 Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'U'llah, p. 331. 

104 Portals To Freedom 

Regarding marriage the following is a summary of the 
ordinances prescribed by the "Pen of the Most High" for 
the guidance of the race for the coming thousand or thou- 
sands of years. Again the reader's attention should be 
called to the fact that the Lawgiver envisages not one 
nation or religion or group but the whole world. 

Baha'U'llah enjoined marriage upon all and monogamy 
is assumed as the only means of content and happiness. 
He condemned the attitude of certain religious groups in 
various credal systems which forbade marriage to their 
priesthood. "It is My Command," He said, "that ye raise 
up children who will mention Me among My servants." 

He directed that marriage should depend first upon the 
consent of both parties concerned and also upon the con- 
sent of the parents of both, as "He desires love and affec- 
tion and unity to exist between all the servants of God, 
and lest hatred and detestation come between them." 

A dowry is recommended paid by the man to the 
woman, and He designates the amount, which is quite 
small. The object, evidently, being to avoid the sense of 
absolute dependence of the wife upon the husband. This 
is especially important in oriental countries. 

In case of disagreement between man and wife, if any 
agitation or aversion arise, he must not divorce her, but 
be patient one year, "perhaps the fragrance of love may 
emanate from them." If, however, at the expiration of 
that time "no fragrance of love be diffused," divorce is 

'Abdu'1-Baha, in a Tablet to the Baha'is of America, 
wrote as follows: 

Portals To Freedom 105 

"The friends (Baha'is) must strictly refrain from 
divorce unless something arises which compels them to 
separate because of their aversion to each other; in that 
case, with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly (the 
local governing body) they may decide to separate. They 
must then be patient and wait one complete year. If dur- 
ing that time harmony is not re-established between them, 
then their divorce may be realized. . . . The foundation 
of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and 
love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon dif- 
ferences, especially between husband and wife. If one of 
these two become the cause of divorce that one will 
unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the 
victim of formidable calamities and experience deep 
remorse." 2 

Baha'U'llah exhorts men not to follow their material 
self, for it is an instigator to transgression and foul actions, 
but rather to follow the Ruler of all things Who com- 
mandeth them to practice virtue and righteousness. It is 
such constant references to a Supreme Law, coupled with 
a sympathetic consideration of human weakness, which 
makes the study of His Writings so enthralling. One looks 
in vain into the statute books of past and present for any 
such atmosphere of commingled authority and love. The 
Mosaic Law conveys no hint of such. It is as if the Sermon 
on the Mount were reduced to a code and laid upon men 
with gentle hands. In this fact lies the assurance not only 
of its divine origin but of its ultimate acceptance by the 

2 Quoted from Baha'U'llah and The New Era, p. 207, Esselmont. 

i o6 Portals To Freedom 

world. For when the heart of man is appealed to as well 
as his reason he is perforce enlisted on the side of the Law 
proposed. As an illustration of this appeal Baha'U'llah 
urges upon the husband, when undertaking an extended 
absence from his wife, to acquaint her with particulars of 
his movements and an appointed time for his return. "If 
he fulfills his promise he will be of those who fulfill the 
commands of his Lord, and will be recorded by the Pen 
of Command as being of those who do right." If a real 
excuse prevents his return he must inform his wife and 
strive to return. If this is not done she must wait nine 
months, at the expiration of which time she is free to 
choose another husband. "But if she is patient it is better, 
for God loves those 'who are patient" 

If during those nine months of waiting news is received 
from the husband she must adopt kindness and favor, for 
He wisheth peace to exist among His servants. "Beware 
lest ye create obstinacy in your midst." 

Picture the courts of the future where such an atmos- 
phere obtains. If the reader is inclined to doubt that such 
should ever be possible far be it from me to cast asper- 
sions. None could possibly be a greater doubter than I. 
Yet I have come to see in the Divine Words of Baha- 
'U'llah not only beauty and wisdom but an indwelling 
potency to sway the human heart and will. The fact that 
several millions of the world's peoples have already sub- 
scribed to His Teachings and Laws, often at the cost of 
property and life, may be accounted as, at least, some 
slight reason to hope that at some not far distant day an 
influential minority of sane men will accept and put in 
practice these divine precepts. 

_ Portals To Freedom 1 07 

Regarding the provision concerning the consent of the 
parents of both parties to the marriage, 'Abdu'1-Baha once 
wrote to an inquirer that this consent was to be obtained 
after a mutual satisfactory arrangement had been arrived 
at by the contracting parties. Before that the parents had 
no right of interference. This abrogates the practice usual 
in the Orient by which the parents arrange the marriage, 
often without the consent or wish of the persons most 
interested. He further says that as a result of these provi- 
sions the strained relations between relatives-in-law which 
have become proverbial in Christian and Muhammedan 
countries, are almost unknown among the Baha'is, and 
divorce is also a rare occurrence. 3 

Many have been the utterances and writings of 'Abdu'l- 
Baha on this subject. Following are some of the most 

"In this most Merciful Age the ignorant prejudices are 
entirely removed. The Baha'i engagement is the perfect 
communication and the entire consent of both parties. 
However, they must show forth the utmost attention and 
become informed of one another's character, and the firm 
covenant between them must become an eternal bond, 
and their intention must be everlasting affinity, friend- 
ship, unity and life. 

"The bridegroom must, before the bridesmen and few 
others, say: * Verily, we are content with the Will of God.' 
And the bride must rejoin: * Verily, we are satisfied with 
the desire of God/ This is Baha'i matrimony. 

'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets, p. 325. 
3 Bahd'Ullah and The New Era, p. 154, Esselmont. 

io8 Portals To Freedom 

"Regarding the question of matrimony: know that the 
command of marriage is eternal. It will never be changed 
or altered. This is a Divine Creation and there is not the 
slightest possibility that change or alteration shall affect 
this Divine Creation (marriage). 

'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets, p. 474. 

"Among the majority of the people of the world 
marriage consists of physical relationship, and the union 
and relationship is but temporary, for at the end physical 
separation is destined and ordained. But the marriage of 
the people of Baha must consist of both physical and 
spiritual relationship, for both of them are quickened by 
the wine of one cup, are attracted by One Peerless 
Countenance, vivified by one life and illumined by one 
Light. This is the spiritual relationship and everlasting 

"Likewise in the physical world they are bound to- 
gether with strong and unbreakable ties. When relation- 
ship, union and concord exist between the two from a 
physical and spiritual standpoint, that is a real union and 
is, therefore, everlasting. But if the union is merely from 
a physical point of view it is unquestionably temporary, 
and in the end separation is inevitable. 

"Consequently when the people of Baha desire to enter 
the sacred union of matrimony, eternal connection, ideal 
relationship, spiritual and physical association of thoughts 
and conceptions of life must exist between them, so that 
in all the grades of existence, and in all the worlds of 
God this union may continue forever and ever. For this 
Union is a splendor of the Light of the Love of God. 

"Likewise if the souls become real believers in God 
they will find themselves ushered into this exalted state 
of relationship, become manifestors of the Love of the 

Portals To Freedom 109 

Merciful, and exhilarated by the cup of the Love of God. 
Undoubtedly that union and relationship is eternal. 

"The souls who sacrifice self, become detached from 
the imperfections of the realm of man, and free from the 
bondage of this ephemeral world, assuredly the splendors 
of the rays of Divine Union shall shine in their hearts, 
and they shall find ideal relationship and happiness in the 
Eternal Paradise." 

(Signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha Abbas. 

In the first two of the above selections it will be noted 
that the emphasis is upon the eternality of the true mar- 
riage union. In the third quotation a careful reading will 
disclose the three ways in which this unending union may 
be achieved, (a) When two souls on the altars of whose 
hearts burns the fire of the love of God, find that light 
reflected in each other and that flame, commingled, be- 
comes one fire, (b) When two souls having become united 
in physical union afterwards become illumined by the 
Eternal Love, that union also becomes eternal. 'Abdu'l- 
Baha once wrote concerning a believer who had married 
a non-believer, or was about to marry: "This marriage is 
permissible, but Miss - must exert herself day and 
night so that she may guide her husband. She must not 
rest until she makes him her spiritual as well as physical 
partner in life." 

(c) The last paragraph relates to those souls who never 
in this world find their true spiritual mate, and remain 
deprived throughout this transitory life of that great joy. 
To such He says: "If you become detached from this 

IIP _ Portals To Freedom 

ephemeral world and the imperfections of the realms of 
man, assuredly the splendors of Divine Union will shine 
in your heart and you find ideal relationship and happi- 
ness in the Eternal Paradise." 

Speaking of the reality of love 'Abdu'1-Baha said: 

"There are but four kinds of Love: 

(a) The love of God for His Creation, the reflection 
of Himself in the mirror of creation. Through one ray 
of this Love all other love exists. 

(b) The Love of God for His children, His servants. 
Through this love man is endowed with physical exist- 
ence, until through the Breaths of the Holy Spirit this 
same Love he receives eternal life and becomes the image 
of the Living God. This love is the origin of all the 
love in the world of creation. 

(c) "The love of man for God. This is attraction to 
the Divine World, entrance into the Kingdom of God, 
receiving the Bounties of God, illumination with the 
Lights of the Kingdom. This love is the origin of all 
philanthropy; this love causes the heart of man to reflect 
the rays of the Sun of Reality. 

(d) "The love of man for man. The love which 
exists between the believers in God is prompted by the 
ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained 
through the knowledge of God, so that men see the 
Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the 
other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and, finding 
this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another 
in love. This love will make all men the waves of one 
sea, the stars of one heaven, the fruits of one tree. 

Portals To Freedom 111 

"But the love which sometimes exists between friends 
is not true love, because it is subject to transmutation. As 
the breeze blows the slender trees yield. If the wind is in 
the East the tree leans toward the West, and if the wind 
turns to the West the tree leans towards the East. This 
kind of love is originated by the accidental conditions of 
life. This is not love, it is merely acquaintanceship: it 
is subject to change " 4 

It seems impossible to read these divine Words without 
an inner conviction growing in the heart that Man, in this 
dispensation, is being ushered into a new and hitherto un- 
realized world: the world of Reality; the world of the 
Spirit. No imagination can compass the world of man, 
the coming social Order, when it becomes impregnated 
with this Spirit, when it becomes illumined, as it surely 
will, by this supreme Sun. 

And when we have seen in the very life of ' Abdu'1-Baha 
this Light manifested, when before our eyes we have 
witnessed the power and beauty of such ideals fully ex- 
pressed, and are told in Words of matchless beauty and 
wisdom that such a life may be approximated by all who 
submit themselves to the Rays of the Supreme Love, how 
the heart is stirred to realize this experience, and the will 
summoned to assist, to one's fullest capacity, in bringing 
about this Kingdom of Love upon the earth! 

'Abdu'l-Baha's many references to the children of the 
New Day invites the mind to a most enthralling con- 

* "Wisdom of 'Abdu'1-Baha," pp. 167-68. 

1 1 2 Portals To Freedom 

sideration. His allusions to such children, especially when 
born of such heavenly union as already described, are 
many and beautiful. Taken in connection with the fore- 
going excerpts on marriage, and its eternal bond, they 
give a faint indication of what human society may be 
when the World Order of Baha'U'llah is established. 
Space can be given to only two or three citations. 

"These children are neither oriental nor occidental, 
neither Asiatic nor American, neither European nor 
African; but they are children of the Kingdom; their 
home is Heaven and their resort is the Kingdom of 

Tablets of 'Abdu'1-Baha, Vol. 3, p. 647. 

"The newly born babe of that Day excels the wisest and 
most venerable men of this time, and the lowliest and 
most unlearned of that period shall surpass in under- 
standing the most erudite and accomplished divines of 
this age." 

The Bab to His disciples. 
Dawn Breakers, p. 94. 

"It is incumbent upon thee to nurture thy children 
from the breast of the Love of God, to urge them to- 
wards spiritual matters, to turn unto God and acquire 
good manners, best characteristics and praiseworthy 
virtues and qualities in the world of humanity; and to 
study sciences with the utmost diligence; so that they 
may become spiritual, heavenly and attracted to the 
fragrances of sanctity from childhood and be reared in a 
religious, spiritual and heavenly training." 


Portals To Freedom 1 1 3 


"O my Lord! O my Lord! I am a child of tender years; 
nourish me from the breast of Thy Mercy, train me in 
the bosom of Thy Love. Educate me in the school of 
Thy Guidance and develop me under the shadow of 
Thy Bounty. Deliver me from darkness; make me a 
brilliant light. Free me from unhappiness; make me a 
flower of Thy Rose-Garden. Suffer me to become the 
servant of Thy Threshold and confer upon me the 
disposition and nature of the righteous ones. Make me a 
cause of bounty to the human world and crown my 
head with the diadem of Eternal Life! 

Verily Thou are the Powerful, the Mighty, the Seer, 
the Hearer!" 


*From the Baha'i Prayerbook. 'Abdu'1-Baha Section. 

Chapter Eight 
In Dublin, N. H. With 'Abdu'l-Bahd 


"We have come here for work and Service, not for enjoy- 
ment of air and scenery." 

'Abdu'1-Baha in Dublin, N. H. 

IN August of that year in which a New World opened, 
an invitation came to me to be the guest of 'Abdu'l- 
Baha in Dublin, N. H. 

One of the Washington friends, at whose home in that 
city 'Abdu'1-Baha had visited and spoken several times, 
had offered Him the use of a large farmhouse on her 
lovely estate in Dublin. As this house, however, was pretty 
well filled with the large party of Persian and American 
friends who accompanied Him, He had taken a room in 

Portals To Freedom 1 1 5 

the Dublin Inn and it was there He entertained me, over 
the week-end of August 9, 1912. 

Dublin is a beautiful mountain Summer resort where 
gathers each year a colony of wealthy intellectuals from 
Washington, D. C. and from various large centers. 
'Abdu'l-Baha's stay in that place for a period of three 
weeks offers another evidence of His unique power of 
adaptation to every environment; His dominant humility 
in every group, which, while seeming to follow He really 
led, and His manifest all-embracing knowledge. 

Picture, if you can, this Oriental, fresh from more than 
fifty years of exile and prison life, suddenly placed in an 
environment representing the proudest culture of the 
Western world. Nothing in His life, one would reason- 
ably presume, had offered a preparation for such a 

Not to His youth had been given years of academic and 
scholastic training. Not to His young manhood had been 
supplied those subtle associations during His formative 
years. Not upon His advancing age had been bestowed 
the comforts and leisure which invite the mind's expanse. 

Quite the contrary, as I have endeavored to portray, 
His life had been a constant submission to every form of 
hardship and deprivation, when considered from a ma- 
terial standpoint alone. Dungeons and chains had been 
His lot. Torture not seldom; confinement in the stocks, 
or any indignity which heartless jailers might design, His 
portion. The Bible and the Koran His only books. 

How, then, can it be explained that in this environment 
He not only mingled with these highest products of 

1 1 6 Portals To Freedom 

wealth and culture with no slightest embarrassment to 
them or to Him, but He literally outshone them in their 
chosen field. 

No matter what subject was brought up He was per- 
fectly at home in its discussion, yet always with an under- 
current of modesty and loving consideration for the opin- 
ions of others. I have before spoken of His unfailing 
courtesy. It was really more than what that term usually 
connotes to the Western mind. The same Persian word 
is used for both reverence and courtesy. He "saw the 
Face of His Heavenly Father in every face" and rever- 
enced the soul behind it. How could one be discourteous 
if such an attitude was held towards everyone! 

The husband of 'Abdu'l-Baha's hostess in Dublin, who, 
while never becoming an avowed believer, had many op- 
portunities of meeting and talking with the Master, when 
asked to sum up his impressions of Him, responded, after 
a little consideration: "I think He is the most perfect 
gentleman I have ever known." 

Consider. This was the verdict of a man of inherited 
wealth; of wide and profound culture; accustomed to 
judge men by delicate standards, and to whom the word 
'gentleman' connoted all which he held most admirable. 
And the term was applied by him to a man who, it is not 
improbable, had never in His long life of imprisonment 
ever heard the word as relating to him. 

One may, perhaps, get a glimpse, if he considers deeply 
this rather portentous fact, of what Baha'U'llah means 
when He says: "The root of all knowledge is the knowl- 
edge of God." And again: "Knowledge is one point: the 

Portals To Freedom 1 1 7 

ignorant have multiplied it." It may be true, as He has 
many times reiterated, that the only true Life is that of the 
spirit, and that when one lives and moves and thinks con- 
stantly upon the spiritual plane, all things, both great and 
small, are done with perfectness. 

Certainly, in my many contacts with this Master of Life, 
I never knew Him to fail in manifesting the highest quali- 
ties of conduct, whether in the realm of material action 
or in intellectual or spiritual teaching. 

I remember a luncheon party in Dublin, to which came 
a number of these Summer residents to meet 'Abdu'l- 
Baha. There were present a famous scientist, two well- 
known artists, a physician of note, and all of the fifteen 
or twenty people present had a background of more than 
one generation of wealth or culture. Could it be possible 
to imagine a more glaring contrast with the life 'Abdu'l- 
Baha had lived? 

The hostess, who had visited the Master in 'Akka while 
he was still a prisoner there, and whose life had become 
transformed through her spiritual contact with Him, has 
spoken to me of this gathering several times. Naturally, 
she was somewhat concerned that her friends whom she 
had known for years in the social life of Washington, 
Baltimore and New York, should know the Master, to 
a degree at least, as she had known Him, but there was 
trepidation in her soul. For these men and women were 
not of a religious trend of thought. In fact several of them 
were frankly agnostic, and all were uninterested in that 
phase of life. 

1 1 8 Portals To Freedom 

She wanted her party to be a success, of course, but 
more she wished these friends to get a glimpse, if only a 
glimpse, of that World of Reality into which 'Abdu'l- 
Baha had ushered her. She wondered, she has told me, how 
'Abdu'1-Baha would handle the situation, for she knew 
that she would not have the responsibility for its handling. 
'Abdu'1-Baha was always the Host, His the dominating 

I was present at that gathering, but little of its true sig- 
nificance penetrated my consciousness. I have but the 
memory of a typical luncheon party where had gathered 
a group of society's intelligentsia to meet a noteworthy 

It is a perpetual wonder to me, as I recall to memory 
those months, during which, all unrecognized by me, the 
portals to spiritual freedom were slowly swinging wide, 
how little I understood what was really happening. I see 
now what a tremendous task it is to open the eyes of the 
blind. No wonder our Lord Christ marvelled that those 
to whom He spake and upon whom He smiled, having 
eyes and ears and hearts, saw not, nor heard nor under- 
stood. No wonder that tradition has handed down to us 
the confusion of thought which must have afflicted those 
to whom came the revelations of the miracle of bestowed 
spiritual sight. To them, and even to us, too often physical 
sight was the great blessing; the loss of it the great tragedy; 
its restoration the great miracle. But to Jesus, and to all 
true Seers, physical sight is blindness compared to the 
Sight of the Spirit. 'Abdu'1-Baha calls it seeing by "The 
Light Divine" and says: 

Portals To Freedom 1 19 

"Seek with all your hearts for this Heavenly Light, so 
that you may be able to understand the Realities, that 
you may know the secret things of God, that the hidden 
ways may be made plain before your eyes. By the help of 
this effulgent Light all the spiritual interpretations of the 
Holy Writings have been made plain, the hidden things of 
God's universe have become manifest, and we have been 
able to comprehend the Divine purposes for man." l 

Truly a miracle of miracles it is that earth-blinded eyes 
ever open to the World of Reality. 

Most of those present at this luncheon party knew a 
little of 'Abdu'l-Baha's life history, and, presumably, were 
expecting a dissertation from Him on the Baha'i Cause. 
The hostess had suggested to the Master that He speak to 
them on the subject of Immortality. However, as the meal 
progressed, and no more than the usual commonplaces 
of polite society were mentioned, the hostess made an 
opening, as she thought, for 'Abdu'1-Baha to speak on 
spiritual things. 

His response to this was to ask if He might tell them 
a story, and he related one of the Oriental tales, of which 
He had a great store and at its conclusion all laughed 

The ice was broken. Others added stories of which the 
Master's anecdote had reminded them. Then 'Abdu'l- 
Baha, His face beaming with happiness, told another 

i Wisdom of 'Abdu'1-Baha, pp. 62-63. 

1 20 Portals To Freedom 

story, and another. His laughter rang through the room. 
He said that the Orientals, had many such stories illus- 
trating different phases of life. Many of them are ex- 
tremely humorous. It is good to laugh. Laughter is a 
spiritual relaxation. When they were in prison, He said, 
and under the utmost deprivation and difficulties, each of 
them at the close of the day would relate the most 
ludicrous event which had happened. Sometimes it was 
a little difficult to find one but always they would laugh 
until the tears would roll down their cheeks. Happiness, 
He said, is never dependent upon material surroundings, 
otherwise how sad those years would have been. As it was 
they were always in the utmost state of joy and happiness. 

That was the nearest approach He came to any refer- 
ence to Himself or to the Divine Teachings. But over 
that group before the gathering dispersed, hovered a hush 
and reverence which no learned dissertation would have 
caused in them. 

After the guests had gone, and 'Abdu'1-Baha was leav- 
ing for His hotel, He came close to His hostess and asked 
her, with a little wistful smile, almost, she was used to say, 
like a child seeking approbation, if she were pleased with 
Him. -"* 

She was never able to speak of this conclusion to the 
event without deep emotion. 

'Abdu'1-Baha was to speak in the Unitarian church that 
Sunday morning, but He had intimated that He would 
talk with me before the time for the service, so, about 
half -past-nine I was awaiting Him in one of the spacious 
private parlors of the Inn. 

Portals To Freedom 1 2 1 

The events of that day are among my clearest remem- 
brances connected with the Master. At that time, about 
four months after my first meeting with Him, and seven 
months after first hearing of this world-wide movement, 
I was still, it seemed, almost as far away as ever from any 
true understanding of what it was all about. I was per- 
petually tossing in the turbulent Sea of Spirit: at brief 
moments caught in the upthrust of that surging ocean of 
Truth, and for an instant dazzled by the Light of the Sun 
of Reality. But only for a moment; then dropped again 
into the trough of the sea and shut from that Light. Each 
time the illumination came I clung to it and said within 
my heart: "This time I will not let Thee go." And each 
time, when the darkness closed around, my agonized heart 
averred: "The Light is gone forever. It was but a dream 
born of vain hopes." 

I have before spoken of this inward turmoil. I speak of 
it again trusting that other struggling souls may find in 
the analysis of my experience a suggestion for a similar 
analysis of their own. For this servant is fully assured that 
every aspiring soul must fight over much the same 
ground. And the fight is never over, "There is no surcease 
in this War." For every battle won opens a wider field of 
combat against the never-sleeping foe of Self and the 
contingent* world. 

I often, in those days of early recognition of this fact, 
likened this warfare to the great war of nations even 
then rumbling in the Balkans. For, just as the soldier, when 

*In the Baha'i terminology it means the world around us, pressing 
upon us, contracting us and so distracting our attention that we are 
apt to leave God out of our reckoning. 

1 2 2 Portals To Freedom 

the zero hour strikes, plunges over his breastwork, and, 
through hail of shot and shell, dashes against the enemy, 
and, having gained what ground he can, digs in and 
sticks, never retreating, never abandoning ground once 
gained; so the spiritual warrior fortifies each step, each 
yard of ground, never looking back. Also he never for- 
gets that far ahead lies the enemy's chief stronghold, his 
base of supplies, his capital city, the city of self and desire, 
attachment to this world. Not until that stronghold is 
completely overthrown, and the "strongly fortified for- 
tress" of God's Will and His Desire attained, can any 
permanent and honorable Peace be secured. And again 
he never forgets that there is a Commander in Chief di- 
recting the War, and that the "Hosts of the Supreme 
Concourse" are assisting him. Hence he knows that final 
victory is assured. 

During those early and terrible days of this fighting I 
was at times tempted to retreat. It was not easy to face 
the supercilious comments of my ministerial associates; 
the adverse criticisms of my family and friends; the cool- 
ing good-will of the influential members of my congrega- 
tion. One of my clergymen associates asked me one day: 
"Are you still Baha'-ing around?" While a member of my 
own family told me I was a pathological case, and needed 
a physician. 

Why I did not retreat I cannot tell. Partly, I suppose, it 
was because I did not realize whither the Path was lead- 
ing. If all that the following five or seven years were to 
hold, if I advanced, had been revealed to me at that time, 

Portals To Freedom 1 2 3 

I greatly doubt if my courage would have sufficed to 
brave them. 

On the other hand, the glimpses I had at times of the 
very Glory of God; the possibilities of human attainment 
for the first time revealed; the happiness unspeakable that, 
if only for brief moments, swept over me, repaid for all 
the ground abandoned. I was "in the Grip of God." When 
in the depths, and darkness again closed around, it was so 
unbearable that I, perforce, must find the Light again. I 
could not have retreated had I wished. 

Some time later, to aid a friend in the throes of a similar 
struggle I concocted a little fable illustrating this. 

Once on a time a traveller was lost in a dense wilderness. 
It seemed that for endless ages he had wandered forlorn. 
No path there was; no sun by which to get his bearings. 
The briers tore his flesh, the pitiless wind and rain poured down 
their wrath. He had no home. 

Then suddenly, when hope was gone, he came out upon a mountain 

side overlooking a lovely valley, in which was set a heavenly 

palace, the very Home of his dreams. 
With joy unspeakable he rushed to enter. 
But hardly had his foot stepped within its precincts when a heavy 

hand grasped him by the neck and back he was again in that 

dread wilderness. 

But now he was not without hope. He had seen his home. 
And with a courage unknown before he set upon his search. 
He was more careful now. He watched for signs of the Path. 
And strove to pierce the overhanging gloom for gleams of light. 

And, after weary search, again he saw his home. 
He was more careful now. He did not rush to enter. 
He noted how it lay. He oriented by the sun. 
And softly his reverent feet bore him within. 

1 24 Portals To Freedom 

But, alas, again the heavy hand tore him from that loved home and 

back again he was in that vast wilderness. 
But now his heart was not at all cast down. 

He had his bearings! And with great joy set upon his search again. 
And now he marked the trees so he could find the path again. 
The sky grew clearer overhead and gleams of sun assisted. 

And soon, much sooner than before, he found his home again, and 

This time he felt more calm and assured. 

This time he felt no fear of grasping hand. 

And when it came and grasped, and he was back in that foul wilder- 
ness of worldly things, 

He hastened with sure feet upon his search. 

The Sun shone brightly now. The songs of birds entranced his ear. 
And now he beat a Path. He tore away the impeding underbrush. 
For well he knew that he would often have to tread his way back 

and forth, while in this world. 

But he had found his home, and when the roar of men confused, 
And darkness came, he hastened back from self to God. 

That Sunday with 'Abdu'1-Baha in Dublin was one of 
my days of Light. He came into the room where I awaited 
Him and embraced me, asking if I were well and happy. 
We must always be happy, He said, for it is impossible to 
live in the Spiritual World and be sad. God desires happi- 
ness for all His creatures. For man especially is this joy 
ordained for he has the capacity to understand Reality. 
The world of the spirit is open to him as it is not to the 
kingdoms of Nature below him. It is through the power 
of this spirit-energy that he is able to conquer Nature and 
bend its forces to his will. God has sent His Messengers 
all through the ages to aid men in this conquest. I cannot 
recall the exact words, of course, but His point of view 

Portals To Freedom 125 

and the atmosphere of Truth created is indelibly im- 
pressed upon my consciousness. 

It was during this conversation that I asked Him again, 
as I often had, why I should believe in Baha'U'llah as 
the latest and most universal of these Messengers. 

He looked at me long and searchingly. His smile 
broadened. Again He seemed to be enjoying a heavenly 
situation which was not without its humorous side. Then 
He was lovingly grave again. After a somewhat lengthy 
silence He said that it was not given to everyone to speak 
often of His Holiness Christ to men. He said that I must 
thank God daily for this great bounty, for men have 
entirely forgotten the pure teachings of this "Essence of 
Severance." He remarked that His Holiness Baha'U'llah 
speaks of this in the Book of Certitude and that I should 
study it carefully. In that book is explained how these 
stars of the Heaven of Christ's Revelation have fallen to 
the earth of worldly desires. On their tongues the men- 
tion of God has often become an empty Name; in their 
midst His Holy Word a dead letter. This condition is 
that to which Christ refers, He said, when He speaks of 
"the oppression or affliction of the Last Days." What 
greater affliction could be imagined than that under which 
the self-appointed spiritual leaders are themselves in 
darkness. 2 

Praise be to God that you are seeking Light. It behooves 
you to manifest Light; to express in word and deed the 
pure teachings of His Holiness the Christ. To the proud 
we must be humble; He said, to the humble, compas- 
sionate; to the ignorant ones be as a student before his 

2 See Book of Certitude by Baha'U'llah, pp. 29-31. 

126 Portals To Freedom 

master; to the sinful ones be as the greatest sinner of all. 
To the poor be a benefactor; to the orphan, a father; to 
the aged, a son. Take guidance, not from leaders of 
sectarian theology but from the Sermon on the Mount. 
Seek no earthly reward, nay, rather, accept calamities in 
His service as His first disciples did. 3 

He smiled at me with such heavenly radiance that I sat 
enthralled and overcome with an emotion indescribable. 
Then he fell silent and His eyes closed. I thought He was 
weary, as doubtless He was for His constant activity gave 
Him little rest. But it was plain to me later that He must 
have been praying for me. 

I, too, was still. How could I speak! I was in a World far 
removed from my habitual consciousness. It even, for 
those blissful moments, seemed possible to do as He com- 
manded. Certainly I knew that that was what I should do, 
and for the first time a glimmer of the conviction came 
to me that I could never rest until I should approach this 
station to which He called me, if not in this world then 
in some other. 

He opened His eyes after a while, smiled again, and said 
that all who truly seek find; that the door to the World of 
Reality was never closed to those who patiently knock. 
This is the Day of attainment. 

The very atmosphere of that conventional hotel room 
seemed impregnated with the Holy Spirit. We sat in 
silence for some time and then a message came that it was 

8 Gleanings from Writings of Baha'U'llah, p. 285. 

Portals To Freedom 127 

time to go to the church. He embraced me again and 
left me. 

For a little while I sat alone trying to adjust myself 
again to my surroundings, for I had truly been transported 
to another world. 

Then some friends came to ask me to accompany them 
to the church to hear the Master's talk. 

What His subject was I do not recall, nor does a single 
word of His address remain with me. My memory is all 
of the quiet New England church; the crowded pews, 
and 'Abdu'1-Baha on the platform. His cream-colored 
robe; His white hair and beard; His radiant smile and 
courteous demeanor. And His gestures! Never a dogmatic 
downward stroke of the hand; never an upraised warning 
finger; never the assumption of teacher to the taught. 
But always the encouraging upward swing of hands, as 
though He would actually lift us up with them. And His 
voice! Like a resonant bell of finest timbre; never loud 
but of such penetrating quality that the walls of the room 
seemed to vibrate with its music. 

I do remember, however, that what He said impressed 
me with the force of the impact of Divine Truth. There 
was not a question in my mind of the authority with 
which He spake. Truly, not as the scribes! 

I recall that as I left the church and joined some of the 
New York friends who were among the audience, I said 
to one of them: 

"At last I know. Never again will I doubt or question." 

Alas, I spoke too soon. Many months too soon. My 
scholastic training had gone too deep. The habits of a life- 

1 2 8 Portals To Freedom 

time of depending upon book learning, which, as Baha- 
'U'llah says, has: "Like a gloomy dust enveloped the 
world,"* were not to be so quickly broken. 

That evening I felt that I must speak to 'Abdu'1-Baha 
once more. My heart was too full of thankfulness to let 
me rest without the effort to express it to Him. So I 
watched for Him to come back to the Inn after His day 
was ended. It was quite late when at last I saw Him slowly 
ascending the stairs to His room. 

I can hardly believe now that I had the temerity to 
follow. He had entered the room when I reached it, and 
had closed the door. What gave me courage to knock I 
do not know; but knock I did, and He opened the door 
Himself. I did not know what to say. He beckoned me 
in and looked at me gravely. I stammered: "Will you 
please pray with me?" 

He motioned, and I knelt while He put His hands upon 
my head and chanted, in Persian, a brief prayer. It was all 
over within three minutes. But those moments brought to 
me a peace I had never known. 

Before I leave the recital of the Dublin experience I 
will relate an incident to which I was not a witness but 
was told me by one who saw it. It seems that she was 
occupying a room in the Inn at the same time that 'Abdu'l- 
Baha was there. She was dressing and happening to glance 
out of the window she saw 'Abdu'1-Baha pacing up and 
down dictating to His secretary. An old man, wretchedly 

From The Seven Valleys by Baha'U'llah. 

Portals To Freedom 129 

clothed, passed the Inn as she watched. 'Abdu'1-Baha sent 
His secretary to call him back. 

The Master stepped up to him and took his hand, smil- 
ing into his face as though greeting a welcome friend. 
The man was very ragged and dirty. His trousers partic- 
ularly were filthy and barely covered his limbs. 'Abdu'l- 
Baha talked with him a few moments, His face a smiling 
benediction. He seemed to be trying to cheer the old man 
and finally there did appear the trace of a smile, but it 
was rather bleak. 'Abdu'l-Baha's eyes swept the pitiable 
figure, and then He laughed gently: He said something 
to the effect that the old man's trousers were not very 
serviceable and that we must remedy that lack. 

It was very early in the morning and the street deserted. 
My friend, watching, saw 'Abdu'1-Baha step into the 
shadow of the porch and He seemed to be fumbling under 
His 'aba at the waist. Then He stooped, His trousers 
dropped to the ground. He gathered his robe about Him 
and turning handed the trousers to the old man. "May 
God go with you," He said, and turned to the secretary 
as if nothing unusual had happened. I wonder what that 
man thought as he went his way. I like to think that this 
glimpse into a world in which someone cared enough for 
him to give him his own garb rather than that he should 
need, marked an epoch in his life, and transformed the 
"brass of this world into gold by the alchemy of the 
spirit," as Baha 'U'llah says. 

During the prison life in 'Akka 'Abdu'1-Baha often gave 
His bed to those who had none, and He always refused 
to own more than one coat. 

1 30 Portals To Freedom 

"Why should I have two," He said, "when there are 
so many who have none?" 

I mention these things in this connection to show that 
'Abdu'1-Baha did not tell others the way of Life without 
walking therein Himself. In this incident I saw reflected 
indeed His advice to me in the parlor of the Inn that 
memorable Sunday. 

A few days after leaving Dublin I wrote 'Abdu'1-Baha 
thanking Him for His courtesy and kindness. And soon 
there came His first Tablet* to me, in answer to my letter, 
which I had not thought required an answer. 

It was dated August 26, 1912. 1 quote it in full, for the 
universal viewpoint from which all His words were writ- 
ten robs them of any personal limitation. 

"O thou, my revered friend: 

Your letter imparted the utmost rejoicing, for its con- 
tents evidenced attraction to the Kingdom of God and 
enkindlement with the Fire of the Love of God! 

A hundred thousand ministers have come and gone: 
they left behind no trace nor fruit, nor were their lives 

To be fruitless in the world of humanity is the mani- 
fest loss. A wise person will not attach his heart to 
ephemeral things: nay, rather, will he continually seek 
immortal life and strive to obtain eternal happiness. 

Now, praise be to God that thou hast turned thy face 

*In the Baha'i terminology all writings of these divine messengers 
are spoken of as "Tablets'* implying their imperishableness. 

Portals To Freedom 1 3 1 

towards the Kingdom, and art aspiring to receive Divine 
Bestowals from the Realm of Might. 

I have become hopeful, and prayed that thou mayest 
attain to another Bounty; seek another Life; ask for 
another World; draw nearer unto God; become informed 
of the Mysteries of the Kingdom; attain to Life Eternal 
and become encircled with the Glory Everlasting. 

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious!" 

(signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha 'Abbas. 

Written from Maiden, Mass. 

I well remember the feelings with which I read this. It 
was to me then simply a beautiful letter, couched in 
Oriental imagery. That the last paragraph contained an 
actual summons to enter another World; to become truly 
informed of Mysteries hitherto unknown; to be, in very 
truth and as a personal experience, encircled with the 
Glory Everlasting and enter, while on this little planet, 
into a new and higher Life, so free, so vast, so joyous that 
only the word "eternal" would apply: all this did not 
dawn upon me for years. 

It has become, however, increasingly apparent to me as 
the years have passed, that to the Writer these words ex- 
pressed the station in which He constantly lived, and 
that the great objective of His life work was to summon 
men to as close an approximation of that station as their 
capacity would permit. 

1 3 2 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Nine 




"He is truly wise whom the world and all that is therein 
have not deterred from recognizing the light of this Day, 
who will not allow men's idle talk to cause him to swerve 
from the way of righteousness. He is indeed as one dead 
who, at the wondrous dawn of this Revelation, hath 
failed to be quickened by its soul-stirring breeze. He is in- 
deed a captive who hath not recognized the Supreme Re- 
deemer, but hath suffered his soul to be bound, distressed 
and helpless, in the fetters of desires." 
Gleanings from the writings of Baha'U'llah, pp. 168-69. 

DURING the rest of that summer I was much oc- 
cupied with work which carried me to various parts 
of the Eastern states while 'Abdu'1-Baha was absent from 
that part of the country, making His memorable trip 
throughout the West. 

Portals To Freedom 1 3 3 

In this interval of three months from the time of my 
visit to Dublin and my next meeting with the Master in 
New York on November 1 5th, 'Abdu'1-Baha had covered 
an itinerary and addressed audiences which, considering 
His age, His historical background and the large number 
of the friends who followed Him from place to place, 
has few parallels in history. 

From the time I left His Presence in Dublin, N. H., 
His itinerary was as follows: 

Aug. i6th.-24th. Greenacre, Eliot, Me. 5 Addresses 

" 25th.-3oth. Boston & Maiden, Mass. 4 

Sept. ist.-ioth. Montreal, Canada 5 

1 6th.- 1 pth. Chicago, 111. i 
2oth.-22nd. Minneapolis & St. Paul, 

Minn. 2 

24th. Denver, Colo. 2 
Oct. i St.- 1 5th. San Fran., Oakland, 

Palo Alto, Cal. 4 
1 8th. Los Angeles, Cal. (no accu- 
rate record at hand) . He was 

there 2 days and at least 3 

25th. & 26th Sacramento, Cal 2 

3ist. Chicago, 111. i 

Nov. 5th. Cincinnati, O. i 

6th.-i2th. Washington, D. C. 10 

Nov. i5th.-Dec. 5th. New York City 13 

Making a total of fifty-three addresses, besides, prob- 
ably scores of personal interviews and informal talks to 
small groups of friends. 

1 34 Portals To Freedom 

From the time of His arrival in this country and His 
Dublin sojourn, His itinerary and Talks were as follows: 

April nth.-igth. New York City 13 Addresses 

2oth.-25th. Washington, D. C. 13 

Apr. 3oth.-May 5th.* Chicago, III. 15 

May 6th. Cleveland, O. 2 

yth. Pittsburgh, Pa. i 

uth.-2oth. New York City and vicinity 7 

23rd.-24th. Boston & vicinity 3 

May 26th.-June 8th. New York and vicinity 7 

Junepth. Philadelphia 2 " 

June nth.-July i5th, New York & vicinity 20 

July 23rd.-25th. Boston & vicinity 3 

August 5th.-6th. Dublin, N. H. 2 

(To my personal knowledge 'Abdu'1-Baha made several 
more addresses in Dublin than are recorded in the volumes 
of His Talks published under the title The Promulga- 
tion of Universal Peace. But that is the official record.) 

It is not simply the interest that attaches to the fact that 
this man, in his sixty-ninth year, was able to accomplish 
this rather remarkable feat of physical and intellectual 
endurance which prompts this catalogue of his Summer's 

There is a deeper significance to be discerned by those 
who attended him during his journeyings, or even by those 
who have read this chronicle carefully and sympathet- 
ically. During this very Summer, the poet and sage, 
Rabindranath Tagore, had been under contract to deliver 
a series of lectures in America. After covering a part of 
his proposed itinerary, which was not nearly as extensive 
as that of 'Abdu'l-Baha's, his strength and nerves were 
exhausted and he cancelled his contract and returned to 

*He made 5 addresses on May ind and 3 on May 5th. 

Portals To Freedom 135 

India. He said he could not bear the materialistic vibra- 
tions of America. It needs also to be disclosed that while 
Tagore's contract called for a sizable financial remunera- 
tion, 'Abdu'1-Baha had no contract, other than the 
Covenant of selfless Servitude made with Baha'U'llah in 
the sanctuary of His heart, and, furthermore, so far from 
demanding or expecting any financial reward, He con- 
sistently refused the slightest remuneration, and even 
when entertained by solicitous and generous hosts He was 
punctilious in seeing to it that gifts to both host and ser- 
vants of the household far outweighed what He received. 
Also He emphasized the spiritual capacity of the Amer- 
ican people which Tagore decried. When He stayed at 
hotels his "tips" to servants who waited on Him were 
often so generous as to excite astonishment. But even this 
does not at all cover what He gave. In several instances 
that have come to my personal knowledge His spiritual 
influence upon chambermaids and porters was such that 
one of them said to one of those accompanying the Mas- 
ter: "This is sacred money. I shall never spend it upon 

Is comment necessary? Whence came the Power of 
body, mind and Spirit which enabled this Man, unused to 
Western bustle, competition and nervous strain; all His 
long life subject to persecution, imprisonment and 
hatred; cast suddenly into an environment for which he 
could have had no preparation, so to master every situation 
with which He was confronted? I have shown how this 
mastery extended to the details of the society of culture 
and luxury, but it was no less noticeable, no less victorious, 
when in contact with the humble and sorrowing. 

136 Portals To Freedom 

How is it possible to ignore such conquering majesty! 
How can one refrain from searching with passionate 
intensity for the secret of His power! To me, after all 
these years of study and prayer in my search for this key, 
there can be only one answer, the answer given by 
'Abdu'1-Baha himself, and even more convincingly by the 
Blessed Perfection, (Baha'U'llah). Ponder carefully the 
following quotations: 

"Although the body was weak and not fitted to under- 
go the vicissitudes of crossing the Atlantic, yet love 
assisted us and we came here. At certain times the spirit 
must assist the body. We cannot accomplish really great 
things through physical force alone; the spirit must fortify 
our bodily strength. 

For example: the body of man may be able to with- 
stand the ordeals of imprisonment for ten or fifteen 
years under temperate conditions of climate and restful 
physical routine. 

During our imprisonment at 'Akka means of comfort 
were lacking, troubles and persecutions of all kinds sur- 
rounded us, yet notwithstanding such distressful condi- 
tions we were able to endure these trials for forty years. 
What was the reason? The Spirit was strengthening and 
resuscitating the body constantly. We lived through this 
long, difficult period in the utmost love and servitude. 
The spirit must assist the body under certain conditions 
which surround us, because the body of itself cannot 
endure the extreme of such hardships. 

In proportion as the human body is weak the spirit of 
man is strong. It is a supernatural power which transcends 

Portals To Freedom 1 3 7 

all contingent beings. It has immortal life which nothing 
can destroy or pervert. . . How powerful is the spirit of 
man, while his body is so weak! . . . Therefore it is divinely 
intended that the spiritual susceptibilities of man should 
gain precedence and overrule his physical forces. In this 
way he becomes fitted to dominate the human world by 
his nobility, and stand forth fearless and free, endowed 
with the attributes of eternal life." 

"The human body is in need of material force, but the 
spirit has need of the Holy Spirit. .. If it is aided by 
the bounty of the Holy Spirit it will attain great power; 
it will discover realities; it will be informed of the 

"The power of the Holy Spirit is here for all." 

"The captive of the Holy Spirit is exempt from every 

"The teachings of His Holiness Baha'U'llah are the 
breaths of the Holy Spirit which create man anew." 
Words of 'Abdu'1-Baha. Divine Art of Living. 

"There is a Power in this Cause far, far transcending 
the ken of men and angels." l 

These few excerpts from the hundreds which might 
be cited will give a slight conception of the Source of 
'Abdu'l-Baha's Power to dominate every situation with 
which He was confronted. 

Even His physical condition was reinforced constantly 
by this Divine Power. On one occasion after a particularly 
exhausting day He was returning late at night from a 
gathering at which He had spoken with much energy and 

1 Baha'i Scriptures, p. 304. 

1 3 8 Portals To Freedom 

effectiveness. In the automobile he showed great weari- 
ness. He relaxed and gradually sank into almost a comatose 
condition. The friends who were with Him were greatly 
alarmed. On arriving at their destination He had to be 
almost carried into the house and to His room. Within 
fifteen minutes, while the friends were gathered in great 
anxiety in the lower rooms, His voice was heard resound- 
ing with even more than its usual energy and power 
calling for His secretary, and He appeared at the top of 
the stairs His usual dominant, smiling, forceful self. 

"Blessed is he who was attracted by My Melodies and 
rent the coverings by My Power." 2 

To 'Abdu'1-Baha I had written once or twice during 
the Summer for my mind and heart gave me no rest. I 
carried with me on my travels through the Eastern States 
a small satchel devoted entirely to the books and type- 
written Tablets of Baha'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha (of 
which, by the way, there is a very large available quantity 
besides many volumes not yet translated into English) 
and I, literally, read nothing else, not even newspapers, 
during all those months. From this fact may be gathered 
a faint indication of my mental and spiritual perturbation. 

It seemed as though the focal center of my life had 

2 Baha'U'llah: Tablet to Christians. See Baha'i Scriptures, pp. 124-130. 

Portals To Freedom 1 39 

suddenly shifted, and all my interests were revolving 
around a new and most disturbing axis. 

When my church activities were resumed in the Fall I 
found it impossible to secure the financial support neces- 
sary to continue the work of the Brotherhood Church, 
and it was my letter to 'Abdu'1-Baha telling Him of this 
and also of my intense and growing interest in the teach- 
ings of Baha'U'llah, which brought to me His second 
Tablet. It was evidently written on His way from Wash- 
ington to New York and translated and forwarded to me 
from New York by His secretary immediately upon His 
arrival. It was as follows: 

"O thou spiritual friend! Thy letter was received. 
I was made very sad on account of the event of the clos- 
ing of the Church of Brotherhood. But when I was in 
those parts I remarked to you that you should not place 
your confidence in those souls. They say many things but 
do not fulfil them. 

You stated that 'my first assistant is a philosopher.' 
It is true that philosophy in this age consists in the fact that 
man is out of touch with God; he is out of touch with the 
Kingdom of God; he is out of touch with spiritual sus- 
ceptibilities; he is out of touch with the Holy Spirit, and 
out of touch with the ideal verities. To wit: he may be 
an agnostic and a captive of the tangibilities. 

In reality her highness the Cow enjoys this attribute 
and quality. The Cow is naturally a denier of God, a 
denier of the Kingdom, a denier of spiritualities and a 
denier of the heavenly verities. She has attained to these 

140 Portals To Freedom 

virtues without labor. Therefore she is the philosopher 

Our philosophers of this age after twenty years of 
study and reflection in the universities attain to the 
station of the Cow. They know only the senses as the 

Therefore her highness the Cow is the great phi- 
losopher, for she has been a philosopher from the begin- 
ning of her life and not after the hard mental labor of 
twenty years. 

I have mentioned the fact to you that these promises 
are unstable. You should not put your trust in a soul who 
is without God. 

In brief: be thou not unhappy. This event has happened 
so that thou mayest become freed from all other occupa- 
tions, day and night thou mayest call the people to the 
Kingdom; spread the teachings of Baha 'U'llah; inaugurate 
the Era of the New Life; promulgate the Reality, and be 
sanctified and purified from all save God. It is my hope 
that thou mayest become as such. 

Crown thy head with this diadem of the Kingdom 
whose brilliant jewels have such illumining power that 
they shall shine upon centuries and cycles. 

Ere long I shall reach New York and meet again my 
beloved friend. Upon thee be Baha El Abha! (The 
Glory of the Most Glorious.)" 

(signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha Abbas. 
Translated: New York, November i4th, 1912. 

The receipt of this Tablet left upon my mind two dis- 
tinct and oddly contrasting impressions. The obvious one, 

^^^^^^ Portals To Freedom 141 

of course, was its wit. It was my first personal encounter 
with 'Abdu'l-Baha's wisely humorous attitude towards 
the accidents of life. I have already spoken of his ready 
laughter, especially when speaking of deeply serious 
things. The ordinary difficulties of daily experience which 
affect most of us with sentiments of gravity, sadness or 
repugnance seemed to inspire Him to amusement. 

I remember that when I met Him for the first time 
after the long Summer's separation almost His first words 
were to ask if her highness the Cow were not a noble 
philosopher? And the smile and hearty laughter accom- 
panying the words seemed to sum up the fundamental 
absurdity involved in most of "the gloomy dust arising 
from men of limitation enveloping the world." 3 

The second impression was gathered from the closing 
words of the Tablet with its command of severance, 
mastering and promulgating the teachings of Baha'U'llah 
all over the continent, and its assurance of divine and 
universal results through centuries and cycles. 

It was these words, with their emphasis upon a station 
of such loftiness that nothing less than centuries and cycles 
could circumscribe its power of illumination, which gave 
to me the first glimmer of realization of the sort of great- 
ness to which 'Abdu'1-Baha referred when He said to me, 
as I have related, that This is a Day for Very Great 

We have quite naturally assumed that those men are 
great who have attained positions of prominence and 
power in the affairs of the world, either in the field of 

Seven Valleys. 

142 Portals To Freedom 

affairs or in the realm of the intellect. When asked to 
name the great ones of history: if we admire power we 
at once think of Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Cyrus the 
Great, Alexander. If we admire intellect we think of 
Plato, Aristotle, Herbert Spencer, Einstein. 

That is to say, we judge men by our own standards: 
and it necessarily follows that only those who are greatest 
among men are able to judge truly what constitutes real 
greatness, for their standards are the highest, and they 
alone live up to those standards and exemplify their 

How few there were during the first two centuries of 
the Christian era who recognized the dazzling brilliancy 
of the Sun of Reality in Jesus the Christ! Who would 
ever have associated the word "Great" with the humble 
fisher-folk who followed Him! Yet where are kings and 
empires now whose power then topped all the world! 
And where those humble ones! 

So when that truly Great One spoke to me of this Day 
in which Very Great Things were to be accomplished 
His vision embraced the future centuries in which the 
humblest of the servants of the Glory of God (Baha- 
'U'llah) should shine resplendent in the Heavens of the 
Universe of His Revelation. What though the path to 
this greatness led through the scorn of men of low stand- 
ards, of worldly comparisons; through every criticism and 
ignominy, even to martyrdom in that path, would it not 
be privilege enough to be associated with those who in 
former dispensations trod its way and found that Source 

Portals To Freedom 143 

of joy which is "the spring of all the gladness of the 

Truly he who would be great must be the servant of 
all; "the thralls of mankind." "Rejoice and be exceedingly 
glad for so persecuted they the Prophets before you." 

I remember it was during the following Winter, after 
'Abdu'l-Baha's return to the Holy Land, that one day as 
I was standing on the corner of Broadway and one of the 
down-town streets of New York, a sudden realization of 
this true greatness and of the fundamental futility and 
falsity of all earthly standards, swept over me and I said 
aloud, in the words of Emerson, but with a very different 
meaning to the words, forgetful of the crowded street: 

"Good-bye, proud world, I'm going Home." 

It was the ability of 'Abdu'1-Baha to disclose their own 
capacity to those souls who, sincerely seeking the way of 
life asked of Him direction to the Path of its attainment, 
which made him the supreme Teacher and set their feet 
upon the straight and narrow road. He never descended 
to the plane of the questioner except when He recog- 
nized his lack of capacity at that time for higher under- 
standing. To such He spoke in terms conducive to his 
happiness on the plane occupied at the time. To a mother 
who anxiously inquired of Him how she should treat a 
difficult child, He said that she should make him happy 
and make him free. And this sums up the attitude he 
invariably assumed in dealing with a seeking soul. 

Men are wandering the wilderness of Time and Place; 
caught in the net of circumstance; befooled by the illu- 

144 Portals To Freedom 

sions of sense. They are not aware of this, and that 
ignorance constitutes the tragedy of life. Nevertheless 
they long above all else to escape that wilderness in which 
they wander so forlorn. Under the pressure of this in- 
stinctive yearning they experiment with every path which 
offers the slightest hope of freedom. To the vast majority, 
that escape seems easiest along the path of what they call 
pleasure. To others fame and power beckon, saying: "fol- 
low me and I will give you in the adulation of the world 
that respite from self for which you long." 

To still others the refuge lies in the realms of intellect. 
In extending the barriers of nature; in probing into the 
microscopic universe; in breaking down the atom and 
bombarding the electron; in sweeping inter-stellar space 
with powerful and ever more powerful telescopes, all 
are seeking, though they know it not, for Him Who is 
in their very heart of hearts, "closer than their own 
identity." Inherently, fundamentally, essentially, ines- 
capably dissatisfied with all the contingent world can 
offer they yet seek to find within its scope that answer 
to their questing soul and mind without which they can 
never find rest. They know instinctively that they must 
escape the self and so they seek, in flying from it to 
the world around them, the refuge from its grasp for 
which they yearn. Their longing is for an eternal 
Home, for knowledge and love of God, but they know 
this not. 

But 'Abdu'1-Baha knew it, as all the Leaders of the 
Race have known it. They know what lies deep in the 
heart of man. So He knew what lay hidden in the inner- 

Portals To Freedom 145 

most heart of the questioner. Hence He answered the 
unspoken, not the spoken word. 

When this marvellous technique of teaching began to 
dawn upon me I recognized for the first time the truly 
sublime function of any soul aspiring to lead another soul 
in the Way of Truth. I began to see why the Master of 
this technique seemed to evade many of my questions, 
speaking instead of the great opportunities of service and 
love in the very spot which I then occupied. 

How our schools and universities would be filled with 
the exultant joy of eager students advancing in this Path 
if their boards of trustees, presidents and teachers had even 
the slightest glimmer of this technique of teaching! The 
full recognition of just one fundamental fact is all that is 
necessary: that every soul in the world is "bewildered in 
search of the Friend." 4 

They do not want answers to their individual, personal 
and particular questions, though they think they do. They 
desire one thing only: that basic Truth which will make 
them independent of all the man-made book-learning 
which, like a "gloomy dust rises from men of limitation" 
and has enveloped them and all the world. 

They want the Sunlight of the World of Reality. 
They can see the Path for themselves once free from the 
darkness of the contingent world and the "prison of self." 
In that glorious effulgence every question is its own an- 
swer; Heaven is found in the reaching hand; God becomes 
the very ear with which man hears the answer to all his 

* Seven Valleys: Baha'U'llah. 


queries. For when we speak of "God," we speak of Truth, 
Wisdom, the Way of joyful and successful Life, the 
"Abode of Peace," Eternal Life, the World of Reality, 
for all these are synonyms of God, and to attain this 
knowledge should be the object of all education. 

It was 'Abdu'l-Baha's positive knowledge of this Truth 
which enabled Him to reach the hidden divine Self lying 
deep beneath the piled-up rubbish of the contingent world 
harvested by the outer mind and the fruitless energy of 
the functioning body. "It is my hope," He once said to 
me and often to others, "that thou mayest arise to such a 
station that no longer shalt thou need to question." 6 

Our first personal contact with the Master after His 
return to New York was at a meeting of the friends in 
the studio of Miss Juliet Thompson in W. loth St., where 
she painted the immoral portrait of 'Abdu'1-Baha. I had 
become a constant attendant at the meetings of a study 
class held there every Friday evening, and it is largely 
due to these contacts that my interest was kept unflagging. 

'Abdu'l-Baha's theme that evening was two-fold. First, 
the manifest power and majesty of Baha'U'llah, in that 
in spite of his rigorous incarceration He dominated prison 
walls and governors and jailors. And secondly: His con- 
clusive demonstration that the teachings of Baha'U'llah 
contained many things never revealed by the preceding 
Prophets of God. 

In the prison city of 'Akka near Mt. Carmel, Baha 
'U'llah was incarcerated for 28 years, after His 12 years 

c Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, p. 453. 

Portals To Freedom 147 

of exile, and His Son, 'Abdu'1-Baha for exactly 40 years. 
Yet from that prison Baha'U'llah wrote to the Shah of 
Persia and to that unspeakable tyrant, 'Abdu'l-Hamid, 
"severely arraigning them for their oppression of their 
subjects and their misuse of power." 

"Consider how marvellous it was for a prisoner under 
the eye and control of the Turks to arraign so boldly 
and severely the very king responsible for his imprison- 
ment. What power is this! What greatness! Nowhere in 
history can the record of such happening be found." 
"Although a prisoner in a fortress He paid no heed to 
these kings, regarded not their power of life and death, 
but on the contrary addressed them in plain and fearless 
language." 6 

It is impossible to describe the majesty of 'Abdu'1-Baha 
as He uttered these words. His face was illumined with 
a radiance not of this world. His being seemed pos- 
sessed with that very Power of which He spoke. It was 
His custom, often, to pace up and down while the meas- 
ured cadences of His voice filled the room, and sentence 
by sentence, His words were translated by the interpreter. 
In this instance, however, the room being not overlarge, 
and crowded to its utmost capacity by the friends, there 
was little space for movement where He stood. Never- 
theless His spiritual vitality seemed to overflow the room 

lbid., p. 427. 

148 Portals To Freedom 

and it was as if (so it seemed to me, at least) He were 
striding its every part, searching deeply each heart. It 
was as if He were saying: This is that Power of which 
Christ spoke. The legions of angels for which He refused 
to call were summoned by Baha'U'llah, for the Time 
foretold by Christ had come, and the King of kings had 
mounted His Throne. 

The second subject to which He addressed Himself 
related to those teachings which Baha'U'llah enunciated 
which were absolutely new, and could be found in 
no revelation of past dispensations. I will not attempt 
to recapitulate the essence of His words. Sufficient to 
say that He itemized nine points in the Revelation of 
Baha'U'llah which were new. "This," He said, u is in 
answer to those who ask: 'what is there in the teachings 
of Baha'U'llah which has not been heard before'?" 

His closing words expressed the power which arises 
through persecution. 

"Pray that my enemies become multiplied," He quoted 
from Baha'U'llah's Word*-"They are My heralds. Pray 
that their number be increased and that they may cry out 
more loudly. The more they abuse me and the greater 
their agitation, the more potent and mighty will be the 
efficacy of the Cause of God. And eventually the gloomy 
darkness of the outer world will pass away and the light 
of Reality will shine until the whole earth will be effulgent 
with its glory." 7 

7 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, p. 432. 

Portals To Freedom _ 149 

Chapter Ten 
Address In the Great Northern Hotel 




"I have offered up My soul and My body as a sacrifice 
for God, the Lord of all worlds. I speak naught except at 
His bidding, and follow naught, through the power of 
God and His might, except His truth. He, verily, shall 
recompense the truthful." 
Gleanings from the Writing of Baha 'U'llah p. 126. 

THE great assemblage gathered at the banquet in the 
Great Northern Hotel on the evening of November 
29th marked the culmination of 'Abdu'l-Baha's public 
addresses in this country. Memory brings to mind no 
other occasion charged with such significances. Here 
were gathered together upwards of about 600 souls. The 
magnificent banquet hall was filled to its utmost capacity. 
All degrees of wealth and poverty; of culture and its lack; 
representatives of the white, yellow, black and brown 

i_50 _ Portals To Freedom _ 

races, as well as of many nations of the East and West, 
were represented. 

The object of this meeting was as universal as the 
audience. It was not to advance any personal or political 
ambition; not in the interest of any social or financial 
group, nor any religious organization. This fact alone 
suffices to mark it as unique: but when we consider 
'Abdu'l-Baha's own definition of its objectives it is recog- 
nized that its exceptional nature is more than excelled 
by their grandeur. 

"This meeting of yours tonight is a uni- 
versal gathering; it is heavenly and divine in purpose 
because it serves the oneness of the world of humanity 
and promotes International Peace. It is devoted to the 
solidarity and brotherhood of the human race, the spiritual 
welfare of mankind, unity of religious teaching with the 
principles of science and reason. It promotes love and fra- 
ternity among all mankind, seeks to abolish and destroy 
barriers which separate the human family, proclaims the 
equality of man and woman, instills divine precepts and 
morals, illumines and quickens minds with heavenly per- 
ception, attracts the infinite bestowals of God, removes 
racial, national and religious prejudices and establishes 
the foundation of the heavenly kingdom in the hearts 
of all nations and peoples." 1 

It is difficult to assign to any one summation of the 
Baha'i Faith the reason for its acceptance. Yet it is not too 

1 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, p. 443. 

Portals To Freedom 1 5 1 

much to say that for me, at the stage of understanding to 
which I had at that time attained, it seemed that no rational 
mind could refuse at least its eager, instant and alert in- 
vestigation. Surely no one could deny the worthfulness 
of these objectives. 

But the picture presented by this summary is not com- 
plete without including in it the personality and life- 
history of Him who spoke. 

For here stood the living representative, the very in- 
carnation of the ideals He presented so calmly. There 
was not one of these lofty expressions which He failed 
to exemplify in every word, thought, deed of His daily 
life. I state this, not because of that which I have read con- 
cerning His life of service from His eighth year; not 
because even his enemies and persecutors have united in 
unwilling admission of His love for them and all souls 
irrespective of their attitude towards Him and the Faith 
He loved, but I state it from my own intense scrutiny 
during many personal contacts with that sublime 

Those who have read this chronicle with care, seeking 
to pierce the poor words that the underlying spirit may 
be revealed, will understand my meaning. "The condi- 
tion of spiritual insight can penetrate this meaning, not 
controversy nor conflict." 2 No more could one imagine 
'Abdu'1-Baha descending to the plane of personal prej- 
udice, animosity towards any living creature, avoidance 
of any rational argument, or moving and speaking under 
any other guidance than the indwelling, all-enclosing 

2 Seven Valleys Baha'U'llah. 

152 Portals To Freedom 

Holy Spirit, than one could imagine the sun ceasing its 
shining. That which He was He taught. That which He 
taught He lived. Is it any wonder that that assemblage 
[nay be truly regarded as so unique in character as to have 
few, if any, parallels in history? 

There is another feature of this address which impressed 
ne deeply at the time. There was no mention whatever 
rf the Baha'i Faith as such, nor of himself nor of Baha- 
U'llah. It is as if He would say: Here are the ideals and 
purposes for which I stand. If you find them worthful 
3erhaps you will wish to investigate whence comes the 
Power which has brought them within the last sixty years 
before the attention of mankind which, during all the 
3eriod of recorded history, has been negligent, opposed 
md scornful of every one of them. It will be time enough 
For you to investigate the doctrine, the philosophy, the 
spiritual dynamic back of the teachings, after you have 
ipproved and sought to live the life I present to you. "He 
:hat doeth the works shall know of the doctrine." 

Often have I been asked the question: "Why are you 
i believer in the teachings of Baha'U'llah?" Perhaps the 
ibove summary of the outward teachings, and the descrip- 
:ions of my contacts with the Teacher, will assist the 
eader to answer that question. But also, perhaps, a more 
explicit answer is required. That answer is to be found in 
:he universal demand of the normal human being for a 
Dasic Truth upon which he may found his life. 

I am not a believer because of any preconceived ex- 
Dlanation of this fundamental Truth based upon the ideas 
)f those around me, as, for instance, the Christian is such 

Portals To Freedom 153 

because he was brought up under its teachings, or the 
Muhammedan is such because he was born where those 
principles are prevalent, and so with all other followers 
of the various theologies of the world. I am first of all, 
humanly speaking, a rational being. I have a mind which 
requires intellectual satisfactions. I have found in the 
teachings of Baha'LPllah and 'Abdu'1-Baha much more 
satisfactory explanations of the meaning, the origin and 
the destiny of life, than I have elsewhere found. I have 
no hesitation whatever in asserting that if tomorrow a 
better, more satisfying, more illuminating philosophy, a 
more spiritual dynamic should be presented to me, I would 
accept it without hesitation. 

But, and this it seems to me, is conclusive as to the 
reason for its acceptance. The teachings of Baha'U'llah 
comprise a veritable Universe of wisdom. It is no more 
possible to define Its limits than for even an Einstein to 
define the limits of the material universe. 

I remember many years ago we entertained a friend at 
our home who was curious to know why we had so en- 
thusiastically accepted the Baha'i Faith. She was a young 
woman of great gifts. An artist and sculptor; a cultured 
mind, a wide experience and a seeking soul characterized 
her. She remarked, after we had been conversing for some 
time: "But how is one to decide between the many vari- 
ous beliefs of humanity? I have, for instance, a Jewish 
friend who is just as certain that his faith comprises all 
that mind or heart could need as you are of the Baha'i 
faith. And I have another friend who is an ardent Chris- 
tian Scientist. She cannot understand why every human 

1 54 Portals To Freedom 

being should not believe as she does. And of course many 
of my friends are sincere Christians, both Catholic and 
Protestant, who are equally certain that the tenets of their 
faith hold all that is necessary to life here and hereafter. 
The Buddhist, the Muhammedan, the Theosophist are 
equally certain. Who then is to decide?" 

We answered: "How thankful we should be that souls 
in every faith are found sincerely seeking and following 
Truth, for Truth is one. But I wonder if you have found 
many among your friends who believe in and follow with 
all their hearts the teachings and example of the founders 
of all the faiths. Does your Catholic friend, for example, 
fully sympathize with, and sincerely love, his Protestant 
brother? Does your Christian Science friend accept the 
teachings of her Jewish friend? Can you imagine the 
Buddhist believer accepting and loving the Christian 
Scientist, the Muhammedan and the Jew, as equal partici- 
pators in the Fountain of Universal Truth? 

Without hesitation she answered: "Of course not. No 
one could possibly do that." 

"And yet," we said to her gently, "that is exactly what 
the Baha'i teachings require. No one can lay the slightest 
claim to that title who does not accept all the Prophets 
as Mouthpieces of the One God. Their basic teachings 
are identical. The laws promulgated by Them differ 
superficially since their function is to guide men to a 
higher civilization, and the needs of the time demand 
specific applications of those eternal principles. Conse- 
quently to accept one of these Manifestations of the In- 
finite Wisdom and Power is to accept all: to reject One 
is to reject all. That is what Baha'U'llah means by belief 
in "the Oneness and Singleness of God." 

Portals To Freedom 155 

This illustrates what I mean by a conclusive reason for 
the rational, logical mind's acceptance of Baha'U'llah's 
teachings. The Circle He draws is so inclusive that no 
creature is omitted; no question unanswered; no problem 
unsolved; no perplexity unclarified. And this is not be- 
cause these intellectual, social, economic and religious 
problems are minimized, but because they are simplified: 
reduced to their essentials and so ordered and classified 
that any high-school youth may regulate his life thereby. 

To illustrate: Our materialistic theory of evolution 
begins with the primordial cell and ends with man. This 
leaves a vast field absolutely untouched. The whole realm 
of the emotional, ethical, moral and spiritual man becomes 
a sort of No Man's Land. Is it any wonder that tornados 
of controversy have raged over this field? Baha'U'llah 
teaches that God and His creation are co-eternal: since 
there could not be imagined a Creator ante-dating a 
creation; a king without a kingdom; a general without an 
army. This undercuts, you see, the endless discussions as 
to man's origin and the beginnings of life. Whether one 
accepts it or not it cannot be denied that it is basic. 

'Abdu'1-Baha was once asked which is the most impor- 
tant component in man's evolution, heredity or environ- 
ment. He answered that both are important, but in con- 
sidering the question of evolution one must always remem- 
ber that Man's true Father is God. Here we have a founda- 
tion for our reasoning than which no more fundamental 
one may be conceived. It does not exclude any intellectual 
or materialistic (if there is such a thing) explanation of the 
origin of Man, but it includes the whole field which our 
savants leave out. It does not negate the former but it 
gives to it a radiant simplicity, a clarifying emotion, with- 

156 Portals To Freedom 

out which endless strife and contention ensue. And again, 
there is nothing in this hypothesis contrary to our most 
advanced scientific thinking: 
"Some call it evolution and others call It God." 

Here, by the way, is another illustration of Baha- 
'U'llah's simplifying fundamentals. He urges man towards 
freedom from the entangling, confusing, strife-producing 
slavery to definitive words, the "Sea of Names" He calls 
it. He directs attention to the Reality underlying all our 
futile attempts to characterize it and limit it. 

'Abdu'1-Baha, speaking on the subject of Economics, 
has said: "All economic problems may be solved by the 
application of the Science of the Love of God." That 
is to say: if the Rule called golden and treated as if it 
were leaden (Worse: for lead has its uses but so far as 
one may determine, the Golden Rule has been laid on a 
shelf whose dust is seldom disturbed.) if that Rule were 
actually applied to the world's economic problems, which 
if not solved bid fair to destroy us, and the love of God, 
the sort of love which makes a home life happy, were used 
as a scientific measurement to regulate our international 
and national affairs; to settle all relations between labor 
and capital, between rich and poor: to regulate all coinage 
and commerce, can there be any doubt that the results 
would be far more conducive to human welfare than our 
present policies have produced? 

Again: Baha'U'llah asserted the principle that the 
human race is essentially of one stock and that the con- 
ception of "The Oneness of Humanity" is essential to 
modern civilization. 'Abdu'1-Baha in the course of His 

Portals To Freedom 157 

many talks on this subject has shown conclusively that 
all the races spring from one root-race, and that the 
superficial differences of color, physiognomy, etc., are 
due to the age-long influences of climate and food fol- 
lowing on successive migrations of the root-race. Here 
again, not only are we in absolute accord with the most 
modern discoveries of anthropologists and ethnologists, 
but, taken as a corollary to the above principles, we have 
a scientific basis for approach to the problem presented 
by the so-called "under-privileged," "backward," "sub- 
ject" individuals and peoples which, once thoroughly 
understood and practically applied as a scientific dis- 
covery, would immediately inaugurate an international 
policy which in one generation could result only in the 
automatic disintegration of racial, national, color, 
economic and religious prejudice with their attendant 
horrors of lynchings, pogroms, expatriations, armed 
frontiers: together with their only slightly lesser evils 
such as tariffs, money monopolies, cornering of markets, 
"colonial expansion" and a legion of similar devils. 

We could illustrate indefinitely but this is sufficient to 
explain my point, which is that the teachings of Baha- 
'U'llah are simple, definite, easily understood by the nor- 
mal mind, undeniable by the most scientific mind, work- 
able and practical in the settlement of all modern ques- 
tions, and so universal as to be applicable by any individual 
or peoples. 

I have gone into the matter at some length because an 
understanding of this is essential to an answer to the ques- 
tion so often asked: "What is there in these teachings 

158 Portals To Freedom 

which I, or any other thoughtful man, may consider 
worthful enough to adopt?" The Revelation of Baha- 
'U'llah envisages an entirely new World Order based on 
essential and eternal principles which, when applied, will 
result in a peace, prosperity and happiness never before 
secured. They have a spiritual or religious foundation, of 
course, but these terms are used with a connotation abso- 
lutely new and in accord with all scientific investigations 
and human experience. 

The closing words of this brief address at the banquet 
in the Great Northern Hotel emphasizes this fundamental 
criterion of values: 

"This meeting is verily the noblest and most worthy of 
all meetings in the world because of these underlying 
spiritual and universal purposes. Such a banquet and 
assemblage command the sincere devotion of all present 
and invite the downpouring of the blessings of God. . . . 
Be ye confident and steadfast; your services are confirmed 
by the powers of heaven, for your intentions are lofty, 
your purposes pure and worthy. God is the helper of 
those souls whose efforts and endeavors are devoted to 
the good and betterment of all mankind." 3 

Six days later I attended a meeting at which 'Abdu'l- 
Baha spoke on "The Mystery of Sacrifice." Ever since my 

8 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, p. 444. 

Portals To Freedom 159 

first acquaintance with the Baha'i teachings this aspect of 
them had unaccountably moved my interest, as is evi- 
denced by my questioning of the Master in the early 
stages of this interest concerning renunciation. (See 
chapter 3.) 

Why this should be so I cannot determine even now, 
for to most of those who surrounded the Master at the 
time the emphasis seemed to be on the joy and happiness 
attending the New Birth. But to me the throes of parturi- 
tion were too apparent, too agonizing, too demanding to 
evade notice. The cutting of the umbilical cord which 
bound me to the matrix of this world exacted such con- 
centrated attention that little time was left, little oppor- 
tunity afforded, for any true estimate of the world into 
which I was being ushered. 

Perhaps my intense interest in the subject of self- 
sacrifice was founded in the clear realization, long ex- 
perienced, that selfishness, egotism, pride in one's accom- 
plishments (however limited), personal standards of 
values, were the great deterrents of both spiritual and 
material progress and peace. There was no question that 
those around me as well as myself, to say nothing of the 
underlying spirit motivating the statesmen, business 
leaders, courts of law and social usage, were all obsessed 
by this animal-self-psychology. The theologians seemed 
no less under its sway. Their emphasis truly was upon 
sacrifice but it was Someone Else's Sacrifice and that 
seemed altogether too easy a way out, to say nothing of 
its inherent dishonesty and utter irrationality. 

And yet that sacrifice is a principle underlying all life 
is plain to any thoughtful observer. The relation between 

160 Portals To Freedom 

food and the eater is usually considered from the stand- 
point of the eater alone. But surely if the food could be 
consulted its attitude would be quite other. It has two 
possibilities for a standard of judgment. It could be either 
that of resentment at the loss of its station of animal or 
vegetable, or it could be one of exultation over its change 
from the station of animal and vegetable matter to the 
station of the human organism, and the possibility offered 
it of becoming a working part of the muscle, nerve and 
brain of man. We look upon the world of Nature and see 
it as the battleground between the weak and the strong. 
But it is just as possible to view it as the field of sacrifice 
wherein lower or weaker forms of life become trans- 
formed into higher and stronger ones through its self- 
sacrifice. In fact it is quite possible that one of the causes 
back of the slow evolution of species is this very principle 
of sacrifice. 

So when 'Abdu'1-Baha opened His address with these 
words: "This evening I wish to speak to you concerning 
the mystery of sacrifice,' 7 4 my deepest attention became 
riveted. After pointing out that the accepted explanation 
of the Sacrifice of Christ is pure superstition for it ap- 
peals neither to common sense nor reason, He went on to 
explain the true meaning of the word, dividing it into 
four headings. 

First: that Christ's sacrifice consisted in the willing 
abdication of all this world has to offer, including life 
itself, in order that He might lead men into the path of 
true life. 

4 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, pp. 444-448. 

Portals To Freedom 161 

"Had He desired to save His own life, and were He 
without wish to offer Himself in sacrifice, He would not 
have been able to guide a single soul. This is one of the 
meanings of sacrifice." 

A second meaning lies in the true explanation of His 
saying that "He who eats of My body shall live eter- 
nally." There is no question that the physical body of 
Christ was born of Mary, but the Reality of Christ, the 
perfections of Christ came from heaven." 

Consequently He meant that if any man partake of 
these perfections and sacrificed the perfections of the 
material world for the divine perfections he would enter 
into the heavenly world in which Christ Himself lived, 
and would necessarily escape the limitations of the mortal 

The third meaning: "A seed sacrifices itself to the 
tree that will come out of it. Outwardly the seed is lost 
but the same seed which is sacrificed will be embodied in 
the tree, its branches, blossoms and fruits. If the identity 
of that seed had not been sacrificed to the tree no branches, 
blossoms or fruits would have been forthcoming.'* 
"Christ outwardly disappeared, but the bounties, divine 
qualities and perfections of Christ became manifest in the 
Christian community which Christ founded through 
sacrificing Himself." 

1 62 Portals To Freedom 

"The fourth significance of sacrifice is the principle that 
a reality sacrifices its own characteristics. Man must 
sever himself from the world of nature and its laws, for 
the material world is the world of corruption and death. 
It is the world of evil and darkness, of animalism and 
ferocity, bloodthirstiness and avarice and ambition, of 
self-worship, egotism and passion. Man must strip himself 
of these tendencies which are peculiar to the outer and 
material world of existence." 

"On the other hand, man must acquire heavenly quali- 
ties and divine attributes. He must become the image 
and likeness of God; must become the manifestor of the 
love of God, the light of guidance, the tree of life and 
the depository of the bounties of God. 

"That is to say man must sacrifice the qualities and 
attributes of the world of nature for the qualities and 
attributes of the world of God." 

May I ask the reader to note the ascending scale of 
these definitions, and the final emphasis upon the individ- 
ual's responsibility if he is to achieve this final station of 
perfection. Here is no dependence on another's sacrifice. 
The call is to you and me to abandon, at whatever cost, 
the world of the animal, the beastly, the material man, 
in order that we may enter this world of Reality, unsub- 
ject to the laws of time, place and decay. And how 
logical! How simple it is all made. Could anything be 
more beautiful, more winning, than His illustration of 
the sacrifice of the iron to the fire. 

Portals To Freedom 163 

"Observe the qualities of the iron, it is 

solid, it is black, it is cold. When the same iron absorbs 
heat from the fire it sacrifices its attributes of coldness 
for the attribute of heat which is a quality of the fire; 
so that in iron there remains no solidity, no darkness or 
cold. It becomes illumined and transformed having sacri- 
ficed its qualities to the qualities and attributes of the 
fire. Likewise man when separated and severed from the 
attributes of the world of nature sacrifices the qualities 
and exigencies of that mortal realm and manifests the 
perfections of the Kingdom, just as the qualities of the 
iron disappeared and the qualities of the fire appeared in 
their place." "Consequently every perfect person, every 
illumined, heavenly individual stands in the station of 
sacrifice. . . . May the divine light become manifest 
upon your faces, the fragrance of holiness refresh your 
nostrils and the Breath of the Holy Spirit quicken you 
with eternal Life." 5 

As these closing words fell upon my ears it seemed for 
the first time in the long years of search and struggle that 
a sure and attainable Goal was in sight. Is it possible to 
imagine any price one would not pay for this attainment? 
For the goal is nothing less than perfection. 

And here something must be interpolated as to the 
meaning of "perfection" in the Baha'i terminology. It 
must never be overlooked that the substratum underlying 
all 'Abdu'l-Baha's statements is logical and scientific. 

c Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, pp. 447-48. 

164 Portals To Freedom 

Nothing is ever stated (at least this is true in principle) 
that is not susceptible of proof. In using this word "per- 
fection/' for instance, the principle of relativity is recog- 
nized. Jesus' statement that: "There is none good save 
God," is understood as a scientific axiom: That is, per- 
fection is seen as impossible except to the Unconditioned, 
the "Self-subsistent," all other perfection is relative. We 
speak of a perfect rose. We do not mean that a more 
beautiful, more satisfying one cannot be imagined, but 
simply that so far as our experience goes that rose, at 
that particular moment, strikes us as the most beautiful 
one, the most perfect one, we have ever seen. Nor do 
we when we speak of the rose as occupying that position 
contrast this perfection, or include it, with or in any 
category comprehending other objects than the rose, or 
even any other than that particular color, or type of rose. 
We may in the next moment speak of a perfect sunset, or 
a perfect baby, or a perfect action, but always with the 
same reservation of relativity. 

So when we speak of a perfect man. We do not mean, 
nor could we possibly ever mean, no matter to what 
heights of nobility he may have attained, that he could 
not be more noble, more "perfect." We simply mean that 
the heights to which he has attained, compared to the 
average standards of human behavior, are more nearly our 
ideal than we have heretofore met. 

So then it resolves itself into a question of personal and 
individual standards, or units of measurement. The 
gangster's ideal of perfection would be quite other than 
Abraham Lincoln's. Each soul must create, or absorb, an 

Portals To Freedom 165 

ideal of perfection which is at once within reach and 
satisfying to himself. 

The difference between the Baha'i ideal and any here- 
tofore presented lies in the fact that the Baha'i program 
includes group perfection. It involves the postulate of 
man as a gregarious, a social, a cosmopolitan, an interna- 
tional, a 'world being. A perfect man, then, under this 
category, must simply have attributes which will, if ex- 
tended to a sufficient number of individuals, result in a 
World Order the goal of which is the elimination of those 
factors which have in the past, and still have, resultants 
tending towards relative imperfections both in the in- 
dividual and society. 

In the use of the word "perfection," (see bottom of 
page 63) I mean that for the first time the ideals held for 
many years as a Christian believer, of approximating my 
rules of conduct to those laid down and exemplified by 
the Christ, came within the purview of possibility, of 
probability nay, of certainty. I said to myself: "If it 
should take a hundred thousand years, in this life or in 
some other, it can be done and must be done." 

At that time the "World Order" of Baha'U'llah had 
not been elaborated, although it had been visioned im- 
plicitly in the writings of Baha'U'llah, and since been 
elaborated and explained by 'Abdu'1-Baha. But it was even 
then plain to any clear thinking person that such perfec- 
tions of individual attainment needed only sufficient exten- 
sion of acceptance and approximation to make the present 
world disorder of war, crime, poverty and confusion if not 
impossible at least much decreased. In fact the words of 

1 66 Portals To Freedom 

Baha'U'llah and of 'Abdu'1-Baha are filled with glowing 
descriptions of world conditions when these ideals are put 
into practice. 

"This world shall become as a garden and a paradise." 
"This mound of earth shall become the mound of heaven." 

Perhaps it was the clear explication of the results ac- 
cruing to one attaining the "station of sacrifice" which 
stirred me most deeply. Freedom from the lower, the 
animal, the selfish, the egoistic self! What a Goal to hold 
before the mind. And no longer was it a vague, illusory 
goal. It had become, for that moment of clear insight at 
least, a goal in sight, an attainable goal. 

Moreover the very word "sacrifice" had become 
alluring. No longer did it connote suffering, deprivation. 
It was clearly seen as the exchange of something less 
worthful for something infinitely more worthful. It had 
become not a giving up of desirables but the acquisition 
of desirables. Instead of a doubtful proposition in which 
the profit was intangible and uncertain, it had assumed 
the proportions of a clear-cut business proposition. I was 
in the market for pearls. I had now my eye on the Pearl 
of Greatest Price. 

Portals To Freedom 167 

Chapter Eleven 




"The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with 
chains that mankind may be released from bondage, 
and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this 
most mighty stronghold that the whole world may attain 
unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup 
of sorrow that all peoples of the earth may attain unto 
abiding joy, and be filled with gladness." x 

AS the day drew near which should mark the close 
JLJL of 'Abdu'l-Baha's visit in America the thought of 
His departure and the consequent end of the possibility 
of speaking to Him, of even a few words with Him, even 
of the privilege, inestimable it had grown to seem to me, 
of watching Him as He spoke or moved, or sat silent 
while others spoke, became increasingly insupportable. 
I fear that the first five days of December, 1912, my home 
and church people saw little of me. Wherever He was 

1 Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'U'llah, p. 99. 

i68 Portals To Freedom 

there was I if by any juggling of hours and duties it could 
possibly be managed. The only occasion I missed was 
His address before the Theosophical Society the evening 
before He sailed, which fell on a night when I was un- 
avoidably busy elsewhere. But for the rest, day and night, 
I haunted the home at 780 West End Ave. where 'Abdu'l- 
Baha spent those last days with the friends to whom I 
have often referred in this narrative, who had placed all 
that they had at His disposal during His stay in the 

One of the occasions which stand out most vividly in 
my memory was on the afternoon of Dec. 2nd when the 
Master, in the presence of a group of the friends, spoke 
to us words so enthralling, so simple, so impressive and 
stimulating to the highest in man's nature, that I can find 
no parallel save in the last Words of Jesus to His disciples. 
I confidently leave it to the reader whether this com- 
parison is justified. He spoke very briefly: about 300 
words as they are recorded in the collection of His ad- 
dresses in this country. I shall quote them in full. They are 
worth it. But no record of the Words themselves, moving 
and uplifting as they are, could possibly convey the 
majesty, the gentleness, the humility, the love which 
animated them. I sat very close to Him and it seemed 
there flowed from Him to me a veritable stream of spirit- 
ual energy which at times was overpowering. After a 
few words to the effect that since these were His last days 
with us He wished to give us His "last instructions and 
exhortations" and that these "were none other than the 
teachings of Baha'U'llah," He continued: 

Portals To Freedom 169 

"You must manifest complete love and affection to- 
wards all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others 
but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the 
servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate 
towards all, therefore love all from the depths of your 
hearts, prefer all religionists to yourselves, be filled with 
love for every race and be kind towards the people of all 
nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others but 
praise without distinction. Pollute not your tongues by 
speaking evil of another. Recognize your enemies as your 
friends and consider those who wish you evil as the 
wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then 
compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, 
kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is 
hypocrisy and this is not worthy nor allowable. No! You 
must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon 
your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them ac- 
cordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free 
from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with any one. 
If some one commits an error and wrong towards you, 
you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of 
others. Refrain from reprimanding them and if you wish 
to give admonition or advice let it be offered in such a 
way that it will not burden the heart of the hearer. Turn 
all your thoughts towards bringing joy to hearts. 

Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart. Assist the 
world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of 
consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be 
helpful to every indigent one, be the cause of glorifica- 
tion to every lowly one and shelter those who are over- 
shadowed with fear. 

In brief, let each of you be as a lamp shining forth 
with the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trust- 

1 70 Portals To Freedom 

worthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. 
Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be 
quickened of God. Be a Baha'i."* 

In these days of unfaith when the world of intellect is 
obsessed with delusions of its own infallibility; when 
science has abrogated all dependence upon other than its 
own findings; when the very word "Authority," as the 
source of any truth, is anathema even to the most thought- 
ful and spiritual amongst them, Words such as these shine 
like the sun rising upon a very dark world. 

If it may be allowable to question these "ignorant ones 
whom men call savants," to quote Baha'U'llah's own 
words, I would like one or all of them to submit a defini- 
tion of "Authority." Do they absolve themselves from all 
dependence upon it or only from that form of authority 
which deals with matters relating to what the five senses 
may apprehend? Do they accept Aristotle and Newton 
and Hegel and Spencer and Einstein as "authorities" in 
their fields but refuse to accept Moses and Buddha and 
Jesus and Muhammad and Baha'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha 
as Authorities in theirs? Do they postulate before they 
begin to think they think that there are no such things in 
man's experience as wife and child and friend and home 
where love and self-sacrifice are assumed as integral parts 
of man's nature? Do they cancel out all aspiration, all love 
of beauty and truth, all heroism and remorse? 

2 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, pp. 448-49. 

Portals To Freedom 1 7 1 

"Ah, but you go too fast," I hear one remonstrate. 
"We do not accept any of these men of whom you speak 
as "authorities" in their chosen field. If we should, gone 
would be all progress, all invention, all hope for further 
truth. We accept such as "authorities" only until they 
have been disproven as such. When Einstein and 
Minkowski, for instance, published their revolutionary 
ideas which changed all our notions regarding space and 
time, and a little later Rutherford introduced ideas equally 
changing our fundamental conceptions of matter, we did 
not accept them as "authorities." Quite the contrary. 
They were pounced upon and subjected to the piercing 
inquiry of every scientist in the world. It was only after 
this, and even then subject to the reservation of future 
discovery, that they were hailed as provisional authorities. 
A new factor may be introduced at any moment entirely 
altering the foundation upon which their structure of 
hypothesis is reared. That is why we refuse to accept in 
the realm of the unmaterial what we cannot accept in the 
realm of the senses." 

If I have not quoted you accurately yet it seems to 
me that this is what you must say, for it is the status to 
which the scientific thinker is reduced. And I would 
further ask him, then, if by any chance he actually be- 
lieves that the modern thinker along spiritual and non- 
material lines takes any different attitude towards what 
he calls revealed Truth? Certainly the Baha'i does not. 

The first principle under which the consistent Baha'i 
thinker acts is "The independent investigation of truth" 

(See Baha'i Scriptures, pp. 276-79.) 

1 7 2 Portals To Freedom 

This is definitely urged, I had almost said commanded, by 
Baha'U'llah. 'Abdu'1-Baha, in explaining this fundamental 
tenet says: 

"Religion must conform to science and reason, other- 
wise it is superstition. God has created man in order that 
he may perceive the verity of existence and endowed him 
with mind and reason to discover truth. Therefore 
scientific knowledge and religious belief must be conform- 
able to the analysis of this divine faculty in man." 

And again: 

"If religion is opposed to reason and science faith is 
impossible; and when faith and confidence in the divine 
religion are not manifest in the heart there can be no 
spiritual attainment." 

And yet again: 

"God has bestowed upon man the gift of mind in 
order that he may weigh every fact or truth presented 
to him and adjudge it to be reasonable." And finally, 
though such citations could be multiplied almost in- 
definitely: "It were better to have no religion than a 
religion which did not conform to reason." 

Portals To Freedom 173 

That is to say the modern religious thinker's definitions 
of "authority" conform in every respect to the scientist's 
own definitions. Nothing is accepted until passed through 
the alembic of man's reason. The only difference lies in 
the fact that the Baha'i (which term simply connotes 
a true seeker after Light and who loves the Light from 
whatever Lamp it shines) extends the limits of his search 
for truth to include not only the resources of the senses 
but the equally, if not superior, important spheres of the 
emotions, the ideals, the aspirations and longings of the 
human soul and spirit. 

I have long inwardly fretted against the assumption of 
the self-styled "intellectuals" that the field of "science" 
was bounded solely by the realm of sense impression. 
Why should not the word science include the whole field 
of man's experience? Someone has said that nothing may 
be proved that is worthy of proof. If anyone should sug- 
gest to you or to me that our love for wife or child has 
no existence because it cannot be subjected to proof by 
the microscope I think we might reasonably consider that 
an insulting remark had been made. Yet as a matter of 
fact Love is just as susceptible of "proof" as is the law 
of gravitation, which, by the way, our modern scientists 
are now proceeding to cast doubt upon. But they do not 
dare to cast doubt on the phenomenon of Love and its 
various manifestations in the racial experience of man, for 
it is susceptible of the proof offered by the total field of 
that experience. 

174 Portals To Freedom 

So when I unhesitatingly accept such words as are 
quoted here as "authoritative" in matters dealing with 
the ideal and satisfactory life it is only after they have 
passed the bar of my reason and judgment. Surely these 
adjurations are not unreasonable. The mind will find some 
difficulty in denying their simple rationality. Nor could 
the emotions, the "heart/ 7 reject them as puerile and un- 
satisfying. Nor could experience as we know it personally, 
or through racial history, deny their success when applied 
to the affairs of men; else Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, 
Emerson, and a host of their ilk are foolish chasers of the 

If, then, the authorities in the field of material science 
are such only in the accepted sense that they are subject 
to the challenge of individual reason and the Baha'i (any 
sincere and unprejudiced seeker after Truth) defines his 
authority in the same terms; if both hold such authorities 
as subject to displacement by a higher Truth if it should 
be presented, and if the field covered by one of these 
"Authorities" is far wider than the other, far more satis- 
fying to the whole nature of man, far more remunerative 
in terms of actual living, it would seem to me that not only 
have we reason to designate both as operating within the 
realms of "science" but that that which covers the widest 
realm must be the greatest, the most fundamental of all 


Portals To Freedom 1 7 5 

Chapter Twelve 




"The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the 
vibrating influence of this most great, this new World 
Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized 
through the agency of this unique, this wondrous Sys- 
tem the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed." 
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'U'llah, p. 136.) 

ON the evening of the same day, December 2nd, 
'Abdu'1-Baha spoke to a large group of the friends 
in the same home referred to in the previous chapter. 
His theme covered the spiritual teachings peculiar to the 
Revelation of Baha'U'llah. It is essential to the complete 
understanding of the reader of the influences which have 
exerted such a revolutionary effect upon the life of the 
writer that the words of 'Abdu'1-Baha on this subject 
should be elaborated a bit. 

And here I must digress a little to explain why I have 
forced myself to write so frankly of the personal and 

ij6 Portals To Freedom 

intimate things which, had I followed my own inclina- 
tions, would have been locked deep within my heart. 
There is only one reason. For many years I have striven 
to evade the responsibility which this obligation has laid 
upon me, and which, under the repeated urging of friends 
I can no longer do. The reason is this: 

Humanity is one. No individual is without a spiritual, 
as well as a physical relationship with every other in- 
dividual. The hopes, longings, aspirations of one are those 
of each and all. The depths and heights; the agonies and 
joys; the victories and defeats vary in intensity with each 
individual according to the capacity and courage of each, 
but all travel much the same path and all fight over much 
the same ground. 

If, then, one of these units in the struggling, aspiring 
mass has found the Path to the "Abode of Peace"; has 
won battles, if not the whole campaign, in this universal 
Field, and, knowing that so many of his world-\/ide 
brothers are still "bewildered in search of the Friend"; 
still so unnecessarily and despairingly involved in a dying 
civilization to whom a new courage and hope and energy 
might be conveyed by a knowledge of the Way out of 
the wilderness found by one who has fought over the 
very ground upon which they are more or less aimlessly 
and hopelessly fighting, should not the history of that cam- 
paign be recounted that other souls, bewildered and 
saddened as I was, might, God willing, be ever so little 
assisted in meeting and overcoming the same army of 
spiritual enemies? It seems to me that this is a responsi- 
bility which may not be evaded. Hence this history. 

Portals To Freedom 1 7 7 

This chapter is devoted to a summary of the Teach- 
ings of Baha'U'llah as given by 'Abdu'1-Baha on that 
memorable evening. 1 

He began by saying that he would mention some of 
the teachings which are peculiar to Baha'U'llah's teach- 
ings: saying that in addition to those he is about to men- 
tion there are many others which are to be found in the 
books, Tablets and Epistles written by Baha'U'llah such 
as the Hidden Words, Glad Tidings, Words of Paradise, 
Tablet of the World and the Aqdas, or Most Holy Law, 
which cannot be found in any of the past books or epistles 
of other prophets. 

"A fundamental teachings of Baha'U'llah," He began, 
"is the oneness of the World of Humanity. Addressing 
mankind He said: 

"Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one 
branch." . . . "By this it is meant that the world of humanity 
is like a tree, the nations and peoples are the different 
limbs or branches of that tree and the individual human 
creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof. In all the 
religious teachings of the past the human world has been 
represented as divided into two parts, one the "people of 
the Book" (followers of some particular Prophet) or the 
pure tree, and the other the people of infidelity and error, 
or the evil tree. . . . "Baha'U'llah in His teachings has 
submerged all mankind in the sea of Divine Generosity. 

Some are asleep, they need to be awakened. Some are 

1 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. II, pp. 449-53. 

178 Portals To Freedom 

ailing, they need to be healed. Some are immature as 
children, they need to be trained. But all are recipients 
of the bounty and bestowals of God." 

I submit to the reader whether or not the application 
of this principle to the problems of international states- 
manship, commerce and religion would or would not con- 
duce to the happiness and prosperity of mankind. 

I suggest that the reader, if he questions the scientific 
accuracy of the statement (i.e., the implied assertion that 
all races and colors have the same capacity for mental and 
spiritual advancement; that all are affected by the same 
handicaps and freed by the same method), consult some 
recognized up-to-date ethnologist on the matter. 

"Another new principle," 'Abdu'1-Baha went on, "is the 
injunction to investigate Truth; that is to say, no man 
should blindly follow his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, 
each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears 
and investigate the truth himself in order that he may 
follow the truth instead of blind acquiescence and imita- 
tion of ancestral beliefs." 2 

In the previous chapter I have pointed out how deeply 
this affects the traditional connotations of the word 
"Authority" but consider how it also affects the connota- 

*lbid. 9 p. 450. 

Portals To Freedom 179 

tions mankind has throughout historical times associated 
with the words "Religion," "Law," "Government," "Ed- 
ucation," in fact there is hardly a single angle of our so- 
cial, economic, or religious life which is not dominated 
by what somebody in the remote past has had to say on 
the matter. We are ruled in law by the precedents laid 
down either by Roman or Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. 
The very phraseology in which our legal documents are 
couched smacks of the dust of courtrooms of a thousand 
years ago or more. We are ruled in educational fields by 
precedents established when students and teachers alike 
were living under conditions, and motivated by ideals, as 
different from those of today as could well be imagined. 
But why continue? The facts are pikestaffian. And 
this monstrous slavery under which we attempt to carry 
on in a world of radio-airplane-Soviet newness is not con- 
fined to the so-called thoughtless mob. It is true that for 
some centuries yet the vast majority of mankind will be 
content to follow rather than lead. As James Truslow 
Adams remarks: "Within any appreciable period of time 
to expect it ('the vast herd') to reason like John Dewey 
is as irrational as to expect it to carve like Phidias or paint 
like Rembrandt. It will be guided by its desires and emo- 
tions." But when this subordination of one mind to an- 
other, which functioned possibly 2,000 years ago, extends 
to the intellectual, educational, governmental, religious 
and legal leaders of the race it behooves us to consider 
carefully what kind of ground lies at the bottom of the 
precipice towards which we are all rushing so madly. 
How hard is the ground? How destructive will be the 
certain smashup of a civilization which insists on being 
guided by superstition rather than by reason? 

1 80 Portals To Freedom 

How simply, nobly, scientifically Baha 'U'llah places 
His finger on the crucial spot! 

"O son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in 
My sight is Justice. (Clear and keen judgment.) By its 
aid thou shalt see things with thine own eyes and not with 
the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowl- 
edge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. 
Ponder this in thine heart: hoiv it behooveth thee to be" 3 

Again I ask the reader to consider what effect would in 
all likelihood be produced upon civilization if the leaders 
of world thought could suddenly become convinced that 
the Author of this sublime paragraph was one of the 
long line of divinely inspired Prophets Who has appeared 
in the world at this time to act as the Leader of the race in 
the establishment of a New World Order, and one of 
whose fundamental precepts directs each individual's at- 
tention to his own responsibility. Consider how the appli- 
cation of this one principle would effect the immediate 
overthrow of the abuses in the fields of Religion, Law, 
Education and Government. Backed by the emotional 
impulse of the Love of God (love of the new Messiah 
enshrined within the earthly Temple of the "Glory of 
God"), it is impossible to predict the beauty and joy of 
the civilization which, within the space of two or three 
generations, would be established. 

'Abdu'1-Baha continued: 

* Hidden Words: Baha'U'llah. 

_ Portals To Freedom _ 181 

"His Holiness Baha'U'llah has announced that the 
foundation of all religions is one; that oneness is Truth 
and Truth is oneness which does not admit of plurality." 

"He sets forth the principle for this day that religion 
must be the cause of unity, harmony and agreement 
among mankind. If it be the cause of discord and hos- 
tility, if it leads to separation and creates conflict, the 
absence of religion would be preferable in the world." 

"Furthermore He proclaims that religion must be in 
accord with science and reason. If it does not so con- 
form it is superstition." 

It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the wisdom and com- 
mon sense of these principles or to speak of the practical 
results accruing from their application. Surely they are 

"Again Baha'U'llah establishes the equality of man 
and woman. This is peculiar to the teachings of Baha- 
'U'llah, for all other religions have placed man above 

In commenting upon this I simply point out that this 
principle as enunciated by the Founder of the Baha'i 
Faith was laid down as early as 1853 and in a country, 
Persia, which from time immemorial had placed women 
on a level with the animal and denied them even the pos- 
session of a soul. It was about 1848 that there arose in 

182 Portals To Freedom 

Persia a woman who could well be styled the first woman 
suffragist. QurratuTAyn (Consolation of the eyes). 
She was the only woman among the eighteen disciples of 
the Bab, the divine forerunner of Baha 'U'llah. 

"She threw aside the veil," says 'Abdu'1-Baha, "carried 
on controversies with the most learned men, and in every 
meeting she vanquished them. She was stoned in the 
streets, exiled from town to town, threatened with death, 
but she never failed in her determination to work for the 
freedom of her sisters. She bore persecution with the 
greatest heroism and even in prison gained converts. To 
a Persian minister, in whose house she was imprisoned, 
she said: 'You can kill me as soon as you like but you 
cannot stop the emancipation of women.' At last she was 
strangled and her body thrown into an empty well and 
stones piled upon it. Preparing for her execution she put 
on her choicest robes as if she were going to a bridal 

So speaks 'Abdu'1-Baha of this heroic leader of women 
who gave her life for the liberation of her sex at a time 
when Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard and others had 
not yet begun the campaign. 

"A new religious principle is that prejudice and 
fanaticism whether sectarian, denominational, patriotic 

Portals To Freedom 1 8 3 

or political are destructive to the foundation of human 
solidarity. Therefore man should release himself from 
such bonds in order that the oneness of the world of 
humanity may become manifest." 4 

The cancer at the heart of world society is prejudice. 
It affects every relation in life from "other-side-of-the- 
tracks" snobbery to racial and religious antagonisms re- 
sulting in lynchings, pogroms and massacres like that of 
St. Bartholomew and the centuries long persecution of 
the Armenians. I do not ask the reader to believe that 
such a cancer may at once be eradicated, but only to ask 
himself whether it might not have a fair chance of ex- 
termination if an influential minority of world leaders, 
who would necessarily carry with them the mass of their 
followers, became convinced (after scientific investiga- 
tion) of the "Authority" of the promulgator of this prin- 

"Universal Peace," 'Abdu'1-Baha went on, "is assured 
by Baha'U'llah as a fundamental accomplishment of 
the Religion of God; that peace shall prevail among 
nations, governments and peoples; among religions, races 
and all conditions of mankind. This is one of the special 
characteristics of the Word of God revealed in this 

4 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. 2, p. 450. 

184 Portals To Freedom 

This is what Baha'U'llah calls "The Most Great 
Peace." Note that it implies not the mere cessation of 
warfare. It goes to the root of the matter and envisages 
the whole composite life of the individual, the society in 
which he functions and the emotions which are the main- 
springs of action. 

"Baha'U'llah declares that all mankind should attain 
knowledge and acquire an education." 

Again I would point out that this principle found ut- 
terance at a time when education in all parts of the world 
was assumed to be the prerogative only of a certain class. 
Its acquirement was denied the millions of children and 
adults alike whose station in life cut them off from those 
privileges of intellectual attainments which are the source 
of power. It was rightfully discerned that if the under- 
dogs should be allowed the same access to the sources of 
this power which their rulers possessed their writhings 
might displace the mighty from their seats. It is an in- 
teresting coincidence, to say the least, that with this com- 
manding edict from Baha'U'llah began the first emer- 
gence of what is known as free education of "the com- 
mon people." And with it the first hopeful efforts to- 
wards their freedom in every field of human activity. 

Portals To Freedom 1 85 

"Baha'U'llah has set forth the solution and provided 
the remedy for the economic question." 

"He has ordained and established the House of Justice 
which is endowed with a political as well as a religious 
function, the consummate union and blending of Church 
and State. This institution is under the protecting power 
of Baha'U'llah Himself. A universal or international 
House of Justice shall also be organized whose rulings 
shall be in accordance with the commands and teachings 
of Baha'U'llah, and that which the universal House of 
Justice ordains shall be obeyed by all mankind. This 
international House of Justice shall be appointed and 
organized from the (local and national) Houses of Justice 
of the whole world, and all the world shall come under 
its administration." 5 

That is to say: Baha'U'llah has planned and ordained 
a type of world organization which bears an analogous 
relation to the Federal Government of the United States 
in that it envisages a Federation of the nations of the world 
under a central "House of Justice." There is this impor- 
tant and far-reaching difference, however, the Plan of 
Baha'U'llah involves that this governing head shall have 
a religious as well as a political function. This startles the 
minds of those who associate "religion" with the history 
of the abuses growing out of the warfare between Mu- 
hammedans and Christians; between Catholics and Prot- 
estants, and the only lesser strife between the countless 
sects in all religions. 

5 Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 451. 

1 86 Portals To Freedom 

But when it is understood that this State Religion for- 
mulated by Baha'U'llah is predicated upon world unity 
in the spheres of social, economic and educational activ- 
ities as well as of religion; when one realizes that "the 
rulings of the House of Justice shall be in accordance 
with the commands and teachings of Baha'Ullah" which 
abolish prejudice, bigotry and contention, it is seen that 
the objections to such a union tend to disappear. 

To draw a parallel let us assume that at the time of the 
Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. a constitution had been 
drawn up for the government of the Holy Roman Em- 
pire based upon the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth 
chapter of ist Corinthians; the twelfth chapter of 
Romans, the Epistles of John and a few scattering para- 
graphs of similar high ethical import from the Old Testa- 
ment. Let us suppose further that included in that con- 
stitution had been the principle that the prophets of all 
other religions were of equal authority with Christ and 
Moses; that Zoroaster and Krishna and Buddha were ac- 
cepted as of equal authority with the Christ, and that all 
their followers were included among the participants of 
the benefits accruing to this unity of peoples and religions 
under the Holy Roman Empire. And still further let us 
suppose that Christ Himself had left a written constitu- 
tion to the above effect and had appointed under His own 
hand and seal a certain one of His disciples as the first 
head of the governing council of the Empire, together 
with a definite program for the selection of his successors, 
the tenure of these incumbents to be determined by a 
Cabinet, or Council elected by popular suffrage by all 

Portals To Freedom 1 87 

the peoples of the then known world. If your imag- 
ination is active enough to suppose all this your honest 
judgment will follow that the history of religion for the 
last nineteen hundred years would have been vastly dif- 

Yet all that I have ventured to put as a supposition in 
the case of Christianity, falls short of the facts underlying 
the establishment of the Baha'i World Religion. This, I 
think, will be demonstrated later in this chapter. 

The last one of the distinguishing characteristics of the 
Revelation of Baha'U'llah which 'Abdu'1-Baha elabo- 
rated that evening is one which is not usually emphasized: 
yet it is of the utmost importance. 'Abdu'1-Baha called it 
"the most great characteristic" of the teachings of Baha- 

"It is the ordination and appointment of the Center 
of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He 
has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against 
differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone 
to create a new sect or faction of belief. To insure unity 
and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all 
the people of the world designating the interpreter and 
explainer of His teachings so that no one may interpret 
or explain the religion of God according to his own view 
or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his in- 
dividual understanding of the divine words." 6 

Ibid., p. 451. 

1 88 Portals To Freedom 

That is to say: Baha'U'llah in His Will and Testa- 
ment named His own Son, 'Abdu'1-Baha, as the sole in- 
terpreter of the meaning and implications of His teach- 
ings. "He did this," He said, "not because he is My son 
but because he is the purest channel in the world for the 
dissemination of the Water of Life." 

To make the picture complete it is necessary to include 
in this explanation a reference to the Will and Testa- 
ment which 'Abdu'1-Baha left when He passed from this 
world in 192 1. In that Will He appointed His grandson, 
Shoghi Effendi, then a youth of 25, as Guardian of the 
Cause of God and the Head of the first House of Justice. 
One of the prime functions of the Guardian is to decide 
without question as to the meanings and implications of 
the teachings of Baha'U'llah. 

Now let us use our most vivid imagination again. Let 
us suppose that Peter, instead of being a fisher-disciple 
of Jesus', had been his own son, had been under His care 
and instruction since infancy. Let us watch Jesus as He 
grew to old age writing innumerable books, and epistles 
and holding countless conversations with His followers 
who had grown before His passing to a host numbering 
in the hundreds of thousands, and had seen thousands of 
believers die as martyrs in His Cause, in spite of the fact 
that He was in exile and prison for the last forty years of 
His life. 

And let us finally postulate that Peter, His son, lived 
for twenty-nine years after the passing of Jesus (remem- 
bering that Jesus had left the appointment of this son as 
the only interpreter of His Words) and that those years 
had been spent in writing books, thousands of letters, 

Portals To Freedom 1 89 

answering every conceivable question that could arise as 
to the meaning of the teachings of Jesus, and finally that 
Peter had spent some ten years traveling throughout the 
known world, meeting not scorn and persecution but 
honor and respect from all classes of people. Then, as 
has been said, before his own passing at the age of seventy- 
seven years, appointing his grandson to act as the Guard- 
ian of the purity of Jesus' teachings. 

I think you will agree with me that not only would the 
history of the Christian Church have been more free 
from the schisms which have rent it asunder, but that 
The Holy Roman Empire would have been a power for 
unity and peace, acting ever for the welfare and happi- 
ness of the race, for do not forget that its constitution 
would have been based solely on the Words of the 
Prophets of God, culminating in the Sermon on the 
Mount and that no discrimination was allowable between 
the followers of any one of these Mouthpieces of the 

I have followed this hypothetical analogy at some 
length for it seems to me the best form in which to pre- 
sent vividly the World Order planned and ordained by 
Baha'U'llah, explained, exemplified and fully set forth by 
'Abdu'1-Baha and which is now being actively brought 
into functioning power by Shoghi Effendi. 

There is still one highly important feature of the Plan 
of Baha'U'llah which needs emphasis. He has ordained 
in His Law that throughout the world there shall be built 
Temples for the worship of the one God, in which all 
mankind shall be welcomed, without regard to the Name 
under which they have chosen to be enrolled. These 

190 Portals To Freedom 

Temples consist of ten buildings; a central one built after 
a prescribed plan, having nine sides, nine entrances, nine 
paths radiating from these entrances leading to the nine 
other buildings surrounding the central House of Wor- 
ship. These nine buildings are to represent and typify the 
various means by which the Love of God flows forth in 
manifestation of the love of man for man. For instance 
a hospital, an institution of learning, a home for the aged, 
an institution for the care and instruction of the blind, a 
home for orphaned children, a laboratory for scientific 
research, an institution for the care and instruction of the 
deaf and dumb and sub-normal unfortunates, and a build- 
ing containing lecture halls and class rooms for the dis- 
semination of the principles and objectives of pure re- 
ligion, for this is not within the functions of the House 
of Worship itself. Within those holy walls the words of 
man are never heard. No sermons or ritual observances 
are there observed. Nothing but the Words of God ut- 
tered by His Prophets are there chanted. And further- 
more it is prescribed that no salary is attached to the 
services of any spiritual teacher. 

And included among the nine buildings surrounding 
the central One is a Hotel, or Hospice for the entertain- 
ment of travelers. Here visitors are welcomed, cared for 
gratis temporarily and served in any way their need dic- 
tates. Two of these Houses of Worship are already in 
existence: one in Ishkabad, Russia, completed some years 
ago, the other (the central building only) in Wilmette, 
Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. 

In this group of buildings we see typified for the first 
time in human history what Jesus described as the sum- 

The Baha'i House of Worship 

Now Being Erected at Wilmette, 111. 
(As It Will Appear When Completed) 

Portals To Freedom 191 

ming up of all the Law and all the Prophetic teachings 
the Love of God expressed in love for man. Is it any 
wonder that He described the fulfilment of His prophetic 
Words as "The Kingdom of God on Earth!" 

"The Administrative Order, which ever since 'Abdu'l- 
Baha's ascension has evolved and is taking shape under 
our very eyes in no fewer than forty countries of the 
world, may be considered as the framework of the Will 
CAbdu'l-Baha's Will) itself, the inviolable stronghold 
wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and de- 
veloped. This Administrative Order, as it expands and 
consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities 
and reveal the full implications of this momentous Docu- 
mentthis most remarkable expression of the Will of One 
of the most remarkable Figures of the Dispensation of 
Baha'U'llah. It will, as its component parts, its organic 
institutions, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, 
assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded 
not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New 
World Order destined to embrace in the fulness of time 
the whole of mankind." 7 

"So firm and mighty is this Covenant that from the 
beginning of time until the present day no religious dis- 
pensation hath produced its like." 'Abdu'1-Baha. 8 

7 Dispensation of Baha 'U'llah, p. 52, Shoghi Effendi. 
. 54. 

1 92 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Thirteen 




"The life of man is divine, eternal; not mortal and sensual. 
The sublimity of man is his attainment to the knowledge 
of God. The happiness of man is in the fragrance of the 
love of God. This is the highest pinnacle of attainment 
in the human world." 

'Abdu'1-Baha. Promulgation of 
Universal Peace, v. 2. p. 180 

DURING the last three days before 'Abdu'1-Baha 
left this country I haunted His presence. Those 
early December days brought a chill to my heart as well 
as to my body. Although, even then, I had not arrived at 
the point where I could say from my heart that I ac- 
cepted the fundamental Baha'i teachings relative to the di- 
vine station of Baha'U'llah and His place in the long line 
of prophetic Revelators, yet there could be no doubt in 
my mind of the station of 'Abdu'1-Baha. 

What mattered if the station I ascribed was not in 

Portals To Freedom 193 

terms exactly parallel to those used by the friends around 
Him. It sufficed me that I saw in Him the perfect man, 
and that I would gladly have sacrificed all that I had, or 
ever could have, to approach that perf ectness. 

It was not simply that He had never failed me in a 
response to the circumstances and conditions of daily life 
which left nothing to be desired from the standpoint of 
wisdom, humility, courage, gentleness and courtesy. If 
that were all it would mean that I was assuming to my 
own judgment an expert dogmatism. Who was I to de- 
termine whether He were wise or not? Could I, in my 
ignorance, know anything about it? Could I judge, to 
any appreciable degree, His station except to compare 
Him with myself and any others I had ever known? 
From that viewpoint there could be no doubt. Incom- 
parably was He superior. He stood out from mankind 
as a Mont Blanc upon a plain. 

But there was something else which those who have 
carefully read this chronicle must have marked, but 
which elusively evades descriptive words. Yet must one 
try, for it is this very elusive something which does much 
to explain His power. 

One of these fascinating and provocative characteris- 
tics was His ready laughter when alluding to subjects 
usually approached with extreme gravity. For instance: 
On the last day in New York I had my final personal in- 
terview with Him. I was saying good-bye and my heart 
was sad. Haltingly, I expressed this sorrow that He was 
leaving the country and that, in all probability, I should 
never see Him again. We were standing. It was actually 

194 Portals To Freedom 

the last good-bye. 'Abdu'1-Baha laid His arm across my 
shoulders and walked with me to the door, saying that I 
should be with Him in all the worlds of God. And then 
He laughed a hearty, ringing laugh and I: my eyes 
blinded with tears. "Why does He laugh?" I thought. 
Nevertheless, these words, and even more, the tone in 
which they were uttered, and His joyous laughter, have 
been an illuminating light upon my path through all these 

Another characteristic always apparent was His si- 
lence. In the world of social and intellectual intercourse 
to which I was accustomed silence was almost unfor- 
givable. From the collegiate with his, or her, "line," to 
the lawyer, doctor, minister, statesman a ready answer, 
a witty bon mot, a wise remark, a knowing smile was 
stock-in-trade. They all had their "line," and it was upon 
their readiness or unreadiness to meet every occasion ver- 
bally that their reputation largely rested. 

How differently 'Abdu'1-Baha met the questioner, the 
conversationalist, the occasion: To the questioner He re- 
sponded first with silence an outward silence. His en- 
couragement always was that the other should speak and 
He listen. There was never that eager tenseness, that 
restlessness so often met showing most plainly that the 
listener has the pat answer ready the moment he should 
have a chance to utter it. 

I have heard certain people described as "good lis- 
teners," but never had I imagined such a "listener" as 
'Abdul'-Baha. It was more than a sympathetic absorption 
of what the ear received. It was as though the two indi- 

Portals To Freedom 195 

vidualities became one; as if He so closely identified Him- 
self with the one speaking that a merging of spirits oc- 
curred which made a verbal response almost unnecessary, 
superfluous. As I write, the words of Baha'U'llah recur 
to me: "When the sincere servant calls to Me in prayer I 
become the very ear with which He heareth My reply." * 
That was just it! 'Abdu'1-Baha seemed to listen with 
my ears. 

You see what I mean by saying that I am trying to de- 
scribe the indescribable. All this may sound to the reader 
as quite fantastic. Others may not have received this im- 
pression in their contacts with Him, but this invariable 
characteristic of 'Abdu'1-Baha is one of my most vivid 
remembrances and has been the subject of much medita- 

And when, under His encouraging sympathy, the in- 
terviewer became emptied of his words, there followed a 
brief interval of silence. There was no instant and com- 
plete outpouring of explanation and advice. He some- 
times closed His eyes a moment as if He sought guidance 
from above himself; sometimes sat and searched the ques- 
tioner's soul with a loving, comprehending smile that 
melted the heart. 

And when He finally spoke, and that modulated, 
resonant voice of music came, the words were so unex- 
pected, often, so seemingly foreign to the subject, that 
the questioner was at first somewhat bewildered, but al- 

i Seven Valleys-Bahd'U'lldh. 

196 Portals To Freedom 

ways, with me at least, this was followed by a calmness, 
an understanding which went much deeper than the mind. 

Still another characteristic from the many which crowd 
the memory: His penetrating insight into the very heart 
of every subject under discussion. Sometimes this was 
shown by a story in which wit and wisdom were so in- 
extricably mingled that one was often at a loss to know 
whether he should laugh, or weep, or stand in awe. 

When He was at Lake Mohonk, where He spoke to 
the members of the Inter-National Peace Conference, 
'Abdu'1-Baha was walking with a group of the friends one 
morning when they came upon a party of young people. 

After a few words of greeting He said: that He would 
tell them an oriental story: Once the rats and mice held 
an important conference the subject of which was how 
to make peace with the cat. After a long and heated dis- 
cussion it was decided that the best thing to do would be 
to tie a bell around the neck of the cat so that the rats 
and mice would be warned of his movements and have 
time to get out of his way. 

This seemed an excellent plan until the question arose 
as to who should undertake the dangerous job of belling 
the cat. None of the rats liked the idea and the mice 
thought they were altogether too weak. So the confer- 
ence broke up in confusion. 

Everyone laughed, 'Abdu'1-Baha with them. After a 
short pause He added that that is much like these Peace 
Conferences. Many words, but no one is likely to ap- 
proach the question of who will bell the Czar of Russia, 
the Emperor of Germany, the President of France and 
the Emperor of Japan. 

Portals To Freedom 197 

Faces were now more grave. 'Abdu'1-Baha laughed 
again: There is a Divine Club, He said, which shall 
break their power in pieces. 

In the light of world events during the twenty-five 
years since 'Abdu'1-Baha told that story to a youthful, 
happy group fresh from listening to the eloquent appeals 
for world peace voiced by well-meaning but impotent 
ones; the distractedly weak discussing how to bell the 
war-cat, His keen penetration into the very heart of the 
difficulty, and His laughing summing up of the situation 
in a little ancient fable, the characteristic of which I spoke 
is demonstrated but only to a slight degree. 

Two years later the world war broke. Some of those 
very youngsters who laughed with Him so light- 
heartedly doubtless left their bodies in Flanders; the Ger- 
man war-lord fled his empire, his dreams become a night- 
mare; the torrent flooding the world carried thrones to 
ruin like disintegrating dwellings in a spring freshet. The 
Divine Club, indeed! 

On one of these final days, while waiting for the friends 
to gather, I was talking with one of the Persian friends, 
Mahmud, while the Master was busied with a small group 
nearby. As ever, my mind was preoccupied with watch- 
ing Him. His gestures, His smile, His radiant personality 
were a constant fascination. 

"May I ask," Mahmud was saying, "whether you speak 
from your pulpit about the Cause of Baha'U'llah at 
all?" "Yes," I answered, "not as often as I might wish, 
but I quote frequently from the Writings in illustration 
of my subject." 

198 Portals To Freedom 

"When you quote do you mention the Author?" 

"Certainly," I said, in some surprise, "I naturally give 
my authority." 

He said, "It must require some courage, does that not 
arouse criticism?" 

"I had not thought of the matter in that light. Why 
should it require courage to speak of truth without re- 
gard to its source? We are not living in the middle ages." 

Mahmud stepped over to where 'Abdu'1-Baha was sit- 
ting and said a few words in Persian to Him. The Master 
smiled over at me with that indescribably penetrating 
glance of which I have often spoken. He remarked that 
it took a great deal of courage. 

This was on the afternoon of Dec. 3d in the Park 
Avenue home of a woman whose life for years had been 
dedicated to service in spite of the, at times, somewhat 
violent opposition of her influential husband, who had 
even gone so far as to have her examined by alienists, but 
who, some years later, became a devoted adherent to the 
cause of Baha'U'llah. The large drawing room was filled 
when the Master spoke to us. The words were few but 
pregnant, dealing again with those qualities which must 
characterize the believers. 

"I offer supplication to the Kingdom of 'Abha and 
seek extraordinary blessings and confirmations on your 
behalf in order that your tongues may become fluent, 
your hearts like clear mirrors flooded with the rays of 
the Sun of Truth, your thoughts expanded, your compre- 

Portals To Freedom 199 

hensions more vivid and that you may progress in the 
plane of human perfections. 

"Until man acquires perfections himself he will not 
be able to teach perfections to others. Unless man attains 
life himself he cannot convey life to others. Unless he 
finds light he cannot reflect light. We must therefore 
endeavor ourselves to attain to the perfections of the 
world of humanity, lay hold of everlasting life and seek the 
divine spirit in order that we may thereby be enabled to 
confer life upon others, be enabled to breathe life into 
others." 2 

As these words are written we recall a conversation with 
one of the editors of a well-known and "influential" 
Christian magazine. He has written and lectured much 
on world conditions and is an eloquent disciple of the 
cause of international peace. In this interview, which I 
had sought because of one of his books lately read, I men- 
tioned the Baha'i House of Worship whose impressive 
dome was almost within sight of where we sat. Instantly 
his demeanor changed. 

"If you are speaking of Baha'ism," he said, "I have 
nothing more to say." 

"Have you investigated its teachings?" I asked, much 
surprised at this strange attitude. 

"No, I haven't and I have no desire to do so," he an- 
swered. And without waiting for a reply, he continued: 

'That may be prejudice, and I am frank to admit that 
I am prejudiced." 

2 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, pp. 453-54. 

200 Portals To Freedom 

"How can we ever attain to world peace unless we are 
freed from prejudice?" I said, rising to take my leave, for 
the interview was plainly at an end, "surely we can free 
ourselves from that incubus/' 

"Never," he said, smilingly but with great vigor, 
"never can we be free from prejudice: it is ineradicable 
in human nature." 

I speak of this incident, unimportant in itself, to illus- 
trate the unanswerable wisdom of 'Abdu'l-Baha's words 
just quoted. He is not holding before us an unattainable 
or indefinite ideal. He is pointing out a simple and dem- 
onstrable fact. And in the light of that fact we see at 
once why so little real progress is made towards univer- 
sal peace and unity in religion by the wordy adherents of 
these ideals. How plainly does prejudice, self-interest and 
narrow vision underlie their words! How can the hearts 
clouded by such mists reflect the Sun of Truth? How can 
they breathe life into others when there is no sincere, self- 
sacrificing desire on their part to acquire life? 

On the evening of the same day 'Abdu'1-Baha spoke 
briefly again to a group of Baha'i friends of the subject 
which, on these last days seemed very close to His heart 
and lips the station to which those who had accepted 
the teachings of Baha'U'llah were called and expected to 
attain by the very fact that they had accepted them. 

I remember, in this connection, a story told me by one 
of the friends present at a meeting of the executive com- 
mittee of the New York Spiritual Assembly. 'Abdu'l- 
Baha had been asked to be present. After listening to 

Portals To Freedom 201 

their deliberations for a half-hour or so He calmly arose 
to leave. 

At the door He paused a moment and surveyed the 
faces turned towards Him. After a moment of silence 
He said, that He had been told that this was a meeting of 
the executive committee. "Yes, Master," said the Chair- 

Then why do you not execute. 

Always was His emphasis upon deeds: and deeds of 
such quality and purity as seemed, to those who listened, 
unattainable. Nevertheless there was no lowering of 
the standard. And He set the example. There was no 
doubt of that. Like the true Leader He never called 
upon His followers to go where He had not blazed the 

"I have proclaimed unto you the glad-tidings of the 
kingdom of God and explained the wishes of the Blessed 
Perfection. I have set forth that which is conducive to 
human progress and shown you the humility of servi- 

I have selected these latter words for emphasis because 
they indicate what seems to me to be the very heart of 
'Abdu'l-Baha's teachings. 

First: His invariable example. Second: His "humil- 

8 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. 11, p. 456, the italics arc 

202 Portals To Freedom 

ity of servitude." This spirit of servitude was His distin- 
guishing characteristic. The very title given Him by 
Baha'U'llah, 'Abdu'1-Baha, and by which He wished al- 
ways to be known and addressed, "The Servant of 
Glory," was indicative of the essential nature of this 
quality as it related to the Baha'i teaching. He was once 
asked to act as honorary chairman of the National Spir- 
itual Assembly. " 'Abdu'1-Baha is a servant," He re- 
sponded simply. 

"I am 'Abdu'1-Baha and no more. I am not pleased with 
whosoever praises me by any other title. I am the servant 
of the Blessed Perfection, and I hope that this Servitude 
of mine will become acceptable. Whosoever mentions any 
other name save this will not please me at all. 'Abdu'l-Bahd 
and no more. No person must praise me except by this 
name: " 'Abdu'1-Baha." 

And again: "The mystery of mysteries of these words, 
texts and lines, is servitude to the Holy Presence of the 
Beauty of 'Abha, and efFacement, evanescence and perfect 
dispersion before the Blessed Threshold. This is my bril- 
liant diadem and my glorious crown. With this I will 
be glorified in the heavenly kingdom and the kingdom of 
this world. And with it I will approach unto the Beauty 
among the nearest ones to God, and no one is allowed to 
interpret other than this." 

'Abdu'1-Baha says that the "conditions of existence are 
limited to servitude, Prophethood and Deity." 4 That is 

4 Some Answered Questions, p. 267. 

Portals To Freedom 203 

to say: since man is incapable of attainment either to the 
station of the Divine Essence or of Prophethood (except 
in those unique instances of the anointed Ones, which 
occur, roughly speaking about every thousand years) the 
only possible station to which he may aspire is that of 

In spite of the fact that Jesus proclaimed much the 
same truth this is practically an entirely new conception, 
originating with the teaching of Baha'U'llah and exem- 
plified in every deed and word of His majestic Son. 

It is important, then, that this word and its implications 
be examined. What does 'Abdu'1-Baha mean by Servi- 
tude? What possible ground can he have for asserting, 
as He does by implication, that unless man in this day at- 
tains that station he forfeits the right to be called man at 

When Jesus said: "He that would be greatest among 
you let him be the servant of all:" "The meek shall in- 
herit the earth." And when He washed His disciple's 
feet what did He mean? What was He trying to con- 

Exactly what 'Abdu'1-Baha means when He made the 
statements I have quoted above. And it is very simple 
and demonstrable truth. 

Baha'U'llah says: 

"The station of man is high. This is a great and 
blessed Day, and that which has been hidden in man is 
and shall be disclosed. The station of man is great if he 

204 Portals To Freedom 

holds to Reality and Truth, and if he be firm and steadfast 
in the Commands. The true man appeareth before the 
Merciful One like unto the heavens; his sight and hearing 
are the sun and moon; his bright and shining qualities 
are the stars; his station is the highest one; his traces are 
the educators of existence." 5 

And again He says: "Man is not to be called man until 
he be imbued with the attributes of the Merciful." e 

Now, as though a wide window opened to a breeze 
from the world of explanation and understanding, 
'Abdu'l-Baha's glorification of the station of Servitude be- 
comes clear, or at least clearer than was possible without 
this new, yet eternally old, definition of Man. For Servi- 
tude, to 'Abdu'1-Baha, was is the Path, the only pos- 
sible Path to that Greatness. And this, I believe, is just 
the greatness to which Jesus referred, the greatness of true 
Manhood. One of the distinguishing marks of the revela- 
tion of Baha'U'llah is His practical explanation of Jesus' 
Words and the inclusion of their obedience in His the- 

"The humility of servitude" to 'Abdu'1-Baha was His 
"Brilliant diadem and glorious crown." Why? Certainly 
not because He wished to be honored and glorified above 
others. That would be far from humility. No! Only 
because He thus, and thus only, could show others the 
Path to Greatness. 

5 Baha'f Scriptures, p. 259. 

Words of Wisdom, Baha'U'llah. 

Portals To Freedom 205 

Speaking broadly, there are three possible basic rela- 
tions between men: Strife, Cooperation and Service. 
Whether these relations are demonstrated in the fields of 
home life; commerce; education; government, or any- 
where else, these three motivating impulses may be seen. 
Usually all three of them are present, each striving for 
supremacy, though often quite unconsciously. Some- 
times only one or two are active. 

Take the average home life for example. There we 
find, let us say, a father, a mother, three or four children 
and a housemaid. There is strife always to be found, even 
in the most idealistic home. Not an outward strife al- 
ways, though differences do often arise, but always an 
inner commotion due to the necessary effort towards 
unity. Then, of course there is cooperation for this is 
the basis of any family life, without which it would dis- 
integrate rapidly. Finally we see service typified by the 
housemaid, but active in every member in varying de- 

Let us imagine that rare article: a perfect maid ser- 
vant, a purely hypothetical character, admittedly, but ad- 
mirable for the purpose of illustration. She is efficient, 
cooks the most delectable dishes; she is good natured, al- 
ways cheerful and happy; she is obedient, never asserts 
herself, never contradicts; she is wise with a homely com- 
mon sense which penetrates to the heart of a problem, 
whether it relates to the "master's" fondness for coffee of 
a certain strength, the "mistress' " liking for breakfast in 
bed combined with an early engagement at a committee 

206 Portals To Freedom 

meeting, or little Johnnie's embarrassment over a raid on 
the pantry resulting in tummy-agony which must be hid- 
den from mother. This wisdom may even be so far- 
embracing that it involves a study of the current news and 
market reports so that father and mother unconsciously 
talk things over with her when a club paper is to be pre- 
pared or a large purchase made. 

I have sometimes amused myself with picturing the 
daily life of such a family. Is there any question which 
one of its members would be the ruling power? Which 
the greatest, the most indispensable one of its members? 
Can one not imagine the consternation in that household 
if "Bridget" or "Mary" should announce a severing of 

Take another illustration: A corner grocery which 
has for its motto and lives up to it every instant "Serv- 
ice First." Service before profit; service before clock- 
watching; service before any personal consideration 
whatever. After all, preposterous as such an hypothetical 
grocery store may be, that is just what a food store should 
be. Does not the comfort, even in isolated cases perhaps, 
the very life of the community it serves depend upon it? 
If the desire for profit overbalances, the result is debased 
and unhealthy food. The law has stringent penalties for 
such infraction, but such laws would be unnecessary if 
the spirit of true service ruled. But our imaginary our 
utterly preposterous ideal store IS ruled by that spirit. No 
self-sacrifice is too great for its owner and employees to 
insure that perfect service is rendered with its only ob- 

Portals To Freedom 207 

jective the health, happiness and welfare of its commu- 

Can one not easily picture the inevitable result? That 
store would be the Ruler of that community. Its fame 
would spread over the land; its business would prosper 
beyond any imaginings; its owner and managers might 
be consulted by statesmen. It would be GREAT. 

But let us allow our imaginations further rioting. Let 
us suppose that in addition to this spirit of service the 
proprietor was possessed of a wisdom and love based 
upon the Sermon on the Mount. The mere suggestion 
of such a possibility is sufficient. Such a man would come 
to be possessed of a Power rivalling and surpassing that 
of a king. 

If the reader is not by this time so bored by this fan- 
tastic picture that he throws the book down in disgust, 
let him in imagination apply this principle to the field of 
education, in which teachers, students, principals, et al, 
are motivated by a like spirit; to the field of general com- 
merce; of government, of international relations. Would 
not the happiness, prosperity, efficiency and general wel- 
fare of the race be immeasurably advanced? 

But the important thing to observe is that this picture 
involves the appearance on this planet of a type of man 
quite new in world experience. But let it be also noted 
that while such a man is new in actual experience he is 
not new in the picturings of such men as Confucius, 
Buddha, Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed. Such 
men have always held these ideals before mankind. But 

2o8 Portals To Freedom 

in the teachings of Baha'U'llah, and in the life and ex- 
ample of 'Abdu'1-Baha, these ideals are for the first time 
brought to the forefront and made the basis of a New 
World Order. 

Man is called today to the attainment of that station to 
which he was destined from the "Beginning which has no 
beginning." In the very Words of Bahd'U'llah: "We 
have created whomsoever is in the heaven and upon the 
earth after the nature of God. And he who advanceth 
to this Face (His Revelation) will appear in the condition 
wherein he was created" 7 

This, then, is why 'Abdu'1-Baha so exalted the station 
of Servitude. This is why He intimated that man accept- 
ing any station lower than this, any putting of self be- 
fore service to others, qualifies himself as of the animal, 
the bestial nature, and places himself outside the pale of 
real manhood. It is because the definition of Man is 
altered. That which has been hinted in the past as a pos- 
sible goal is now a requisite. Man's dreams, his highest 
dreams, must now be realized. And the path to that real- 
ization is the path of Service; its Goal the attainment to 
the station of pure Servitude. 

"The sweetness of servitude is the food of my spirit." 
These words of the Master indicates the source of His 
power. His was a vastly higher quality of service than 
even that of my fanciful imagination in the hypothetical 
cases mentioned above. It went far deeper; it rose to far 
greater heights. It was a quality inherent in His deepest 
being, and manifested itself in every look, gesture, deed, I 
had almost said in every breath He drew. The following 

7 Surat'l Hykl Baha'U'llah Bahd'i Scrip, p. 217. 

_____________ Portals To Freedom _ 209 

prayer unequivocally expresses the divine station ascribed 
in His heart to this quality of Servitude. Can any one 
reading it, with eyes from which the veil of self has fallen, 
fail to glimpse the glory to which manhood may rise when 
once the Truth it hides from our blind, self -clouded eyes 
is clearly seen? 

"O my God! O my God! I ask thee to forgive every- 
thing save my servitude to Thy Supreme Threshold. I 
deprive myself of every ornament save that of humilia- 
tion and evanescence before Thy Oneness. By thy Power, 
verily, the sweetness of servitude is the food of my spirit; 
with the fragrance of servitude My breast will be dilated, 
my being refreshed, my heart delighted, my eyes bright- 
ened, my nostrils perfumed, and in servitude is the 
healing of all my disease, the allaying of my burning 
thirst, the soothing of my pain. 

Immerse me, O my God, in this most bounteous, 
rolling ocean (of Servitude). Give me to drink of this 
sweet abundant water. Cause me to enter this gateway 
of righteousness; ordain for me this praiseworthy station; 
cause me to obtain this Cup which is overflowing with 
the living water; light in the crystal of my heart this 
Lamp which is giving forth its illuminating, brilliant 
radiance, and strengthen me for the service of Thy Cause, 
O my Lord, the forgiver! 

Accept my servitude in the Court of Thy Holy 
Oneness, O Thou, the Manifestor of Mt. Sinai. Assist me 
to abide in its conditions, O Thou, the Authority of 
Manifestation. Aid me to assist Thy Cause in the eastern 
and western parts of the earth, O Thou, the Possessor of 
the Day of Resurrection. 

2io Tfortals To Freedom 

I ask Thee, by Thy written Book, dispersed writings 
by Thy hidden mystery, and Thy firm proclamations 
to cause me to be steadfast in servitude to Thee, O my 
Lord, the Forgiver! 

Verily Thou art the powerful over that which Thou 
wishest: and verily, Thou art the Merciful, the Compas- 

Baha'f Scrip, p. 265. 


In the Garden of Bahji 

Portals To Freedom 211 

Chapter Fourteen 





"Every 'Christ' came to the world of mankind. There- 
fore we must investigate the foundation of divine religion, 
discover its reality, re-establish it and spread its message 
throughout the world so that it may become the source 
of illumination and enlightenment to mankind, the spirit- 
ually dead become alive, the spiritually blind receive sight, 
and those who are inattentive to God become awakened." 


THE morning of December 5, 1912, witnessed a re- 
markable scene in one of the saloon cabins of the 
S. S. Celtic as she lay in the slip in New York harbor, yet 
how few realized its significance. 

Here was a great modern steamship about to leave for 
Naples. As I went up the gang-plank I found myself in 
the midst of that indeterminate, indescribable rushing 

212 Portals To Freedom 

about; the bustling confusion of a departing liner. Friends 
saying a last good-bye; laughter with wet eyes; petty- 
officers bellowing orders; whistles from passing ferry- 
boats; uniforms, business suits, rumbling baggage trunks, 
women, children and the wintry sun bright over all. 

I caught sight of several of my friends and joined them 
on their way to the large saloon cabin which seemed to 
have been given over to the farewell scene. Here the at- 
mosphere was very different. True, the noises of the 
world without penetrated but were silenced by the seren- 
ity of another world. Here was 'Abdu'1-Baha, His face a 
mosaic of beauty. His cream-colored robe fell to His 
feet. His fez slightly tipped, as I had grown accustomed 
to seeing it at times. In fact the position of that head- 
dress seemed to me often indicative of His mood hu- 
morous, slightly tipped; welcoming, a backward slant; 
grave and serious, firmly on His crown of silvery hair; 
authoritative and commanding, slightly over His dome- 
like brow. These may be fanciful differentiations but 
much of my time during my many meetings with Him 
had been spent in silent watchfulness of that com- 
pelling figure, and many must have noted, as had I, that 
one of His most characteristic movements was the invol- 
untarily lifted hand adjusting the fez to a new angle. 

My memory recalls the scene as though yesterday my 
eyes beheld it. The large, low-ceiled saloon was crowded. 
At least one hundred, possibly more of the friends were 
there. The Persians who had accompanied Him to this 
country surrounded Him more correctly speaking, 
were grouped behind Him. Indicative of the Oriental 

Portals To Freedom ^ 1 3 

attitude toward the Master was the noticeable fact that 
never, under any circumstances, would one of them 
dream of standing in front of Him, or even beside Him, 
unless summoned or delivering a message. When walking 
always were they in the rear. Even when accompanied 
by only one, and conversing with Him, that one always 
walked an appreciable few inches behind Him. When 
speaking with Him they rarely raised their eyes to His 
face. In His presence they stood as before a king. How 
different the Western believer's attitude! Our boasted 
democracy has its windy aspects under any circum- 
stances, but when in the presence of spiritual majesty 
humility is freedom. 

Few of us found seats. The chairs and lounges were 
limited and we were many. The interpreter, who had 
long been His secretary and was now returning with 
Him, stood a pace behind Him. And then He spoke. For 
the last time, in this world, that beloved voice resounded 
in my ears. I have often mentioned the quality of that 
voice. Never shall it be forgotten by those who truly 
heard it. It had a bell-like resonance unapproached by 
any other. It seemed to carry with it the music of another 
world. Almost one could imagine an accompaniment of 
unseen choirs. 

"This is my last meeting with you. These are my 
final words of exhortation. I have repeatedly summoned 
you to the cause of the unity of the world of humanity, 
announcing that all mankind are the servants of the same 
God. Therefore you must manifest the greatest kindness 

2 14 Portals To Freedom _ 

and love towards the nations of the world, setting aside 
fanaticism, abandoning religious, national and racial 
prejudice ..... Therefore if anyone offends another 
he offends God. God loves all equally. As this is true 
should the sheep quarrel amongst themselves? They 
should manifest gratitude and thankfulness to God, and 
the best way to thank God is to love one another. 

Beware lest ye offend any heart, lest ye speak against 
anyone in his absence, lest ye estrange yourselves from 
the servants of God. Direct your whole effort towards 
the happiness of those who are despondent, bestow food 
upon the hungry, clothe the needy and glorify the humble. 
Be a helper to every helpless one and manifest kindness to 
your fellow-creatures in order that ye may attain the 
good-pleasure of God. This is conducive to the illumina- 
tion of the world of humanity and eternal felicity for 
yourselves. I seek from God everlasting glory on your 
behalf; therefore this is my prayer and exhortation." 

After a reference to the war then being carried on in 
the Balkans, and the arresting sentence; in the light of 
what occurred two years later: "A world-enkindling 
fire is astir in the Balkans," He continued: 

"As to you: your efforts must be lofty. Exert your- 
selves with heart and soul so that through your efforts 
the light of universal peace may shine; that all men may 
become as one family; that the East may assist the West 
and the West give help to the East. 

Consider how the Prophets who have been sent, the 
great souls who have appeared and the sages who have 

Portals To Freedom 215 

arisen among men, have exhorted mankind to unity and 
love. This has been the goal of their guidance and mes- 
sage. Consider the heedlessness of the world, for, notwith- 
standing the efforts and sufferings of the prophets of God, 
the nations are still engaged in hostility and fighting. 
How heedless and ignorant are the people of the world! 
How gross the darkness which envelops them! Although 
they are the children of a compassionate God, they con- 
tinue to act in opposition to His will and pleasure. God 
blesses and protects their homes; they rage, sack and 
destroy each other's homes. Consider their ignorance and 

Your duties are of another kind, for you are informed 
of the mysteries of God. Your eyes are illumined, your 
ears are quickened with hearing. You must look towards 
each other and then towards mankind with the utmost 
love and kindness. You have no excuse to bring before 
God if you fail to live according to His command, for 
you are informed of that which constitutes the good- 
pleasure of God. You have heard His commandments 
and precepts. You must, therefore, be kind to all men; you 
must even treat your enemies as your friends. You must 
consider your evil-wishers as your well-wishers. Those 
who are not agreeable towards you must be regarded 
as those who are congenial and pleasant; so that, 
perchance, this darkness of disagreement and conflict may 
disappear from amongst men and the light of the divine 
may shine forth; so that the Orient may be illumined 
and the Occident be filled with fragrance; nay, so that 
the East and the West may embrace each other in love 
and deal with each other in sympathy and affection. 

Until man reaches this high station the world of 
humanity shall not find rest, and eternal felicity shall 
not be attained. But if man lives up to these divine Com" 
fnandmentSy this world of earth shall be transformed into 

2 1 6 Portals To Freedom 

the world of heaven and this material sphere shall be 
converted into a Paradise of Glory. 

It is my hope that you may become successful in 
this high calling, so that like brilliant lamps you may 
cast light upon this world of humanity and quicken and 
stir the body of existence like unto a spirit of life. 

This is eternal glory. This is everlasting felicity. This 
is immortal Life. This is heavenly attainment. This is 
being created in the image and likeness of God. 

And unto this I call you, praying God to strengthen 
and bless you." * 

Such ideas and ideals have been expressed by all the 
noble ones of the past and present but at this great crisis 
in the history of mankind their implications are entirely 

(1) They are not only exhortations; they are Com- 
mands. Note the recurrence of the word "must." 

(2) They are characterized by their completeness (I 
here refer to the full and exhaustive revelations of Baha- 
'U'llah and their practical exemplification by 'Abdu'l- 
Baha) and their definite application to the needs of the 

(3) Never in the history of mankind has the mind of 
the average man been so matured and prepared to listen 
to, and to act upon them, nor so generally aware of the 
pressing, immediate need of their application. 

(4) For at least 1300 years such ideals and commands 
have not found utterance through human lips by One 
Who not only spoke them but lived them. 

1 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. n, pp. 464-67. 

Portals To Freedom ^ 1 7 

(5) These Commands are addressed not to a select 
group, not to one nation or race, but to all peoples and in- 
dividuals throughout the world, and the call is to form an 
entirely new WORLD order, a new type of International 
Civilization founded upon these Divine Revelations for 
such is the unequivocal claim. This World Order hav- 
ing been explicitly outlined, and directions given for its 
practical working, in the voluminous writings and de- 
tailed explanations of Baha'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha. 

In order that the reader may have before him a pic- 
ture of what this New World Order envisages, I quote a 
few words from The Goal of the New World Order 
written by Shoghi Eff endi, the Guardian of the Baha'i 
Faith, in 1931. He quotes from Baha'U'llah's Tablet to 
Queen Victoria, written about 1866, as follows: 

"O kings of the earth! We see you adding every year 
unto your expenditures and laying the burden thereof on 
the people whom ye rule; verily this is naught but 
grievous injustice. Fear the sighs and tears of this 
Wronged One, and burden not your peoples beyond that 
which they can endure ... Be reconciled among your- 
selves, that ye may need armaments no more save in a 
measure to safeguard your territories and domains. Be 
united, O concourse of the sovereigns of the world, for 
thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst 
you and your peoples find rest. Should anyone among 
you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, 
for this is naught but manifest justice/' 

2 1 8 Portals To Freedom 

And Shoghi Effendi comments as follows: 

"What else could these weighty words signify if they 
did not point to the inevitable curtailment of unfettered 
national sovereignty as an indispensable preliminary to 
the formation of the future Commonwealth of all the 
nations of the world? Some form of a world Super-State 
must needs be evolved, in whose favor all the nations of 
the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make 
war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to 
maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining 
internal order within their respective dominions. Such a 
state will have to include within its orbit an International 
Executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchal- 
lengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the 
Commonwealth; a World Parliament whose members shall 
be elected by the people in their respective countries and 
whose election shall be confirmed by their respective 
governments; and a Supreme Tribunal whose judgement 
will have a binding effect even in such cases where the 
parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit 
their case to its consideration. A world community in 
which all economic barriers will have been permanently 
demolished and the interdependence of Capital and 
Labor definitely recognized; in which the clamor of 
religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever 
stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have 
been finally extinguished; in which a single code of inter- 
national law the product of the considered judgment 
of the world's federated representatives shall have as its 
sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the com- 
bined forces of the federated units; and, finally, a world 

Portals To Freedom 2 1 9 

community in which the fury of a capricious and militant 
nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding 
consciousness of world citizenship such indeed, appears, 
in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Baha- 
'U'llah, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the 
fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age." 2 

(6) During the 93 years since the Message was an- 
nounced by the Bab, and in the 74 years since the public 
announcement of His Mission and station by Baha- 
'U'llah, and more noticeably during the sixteen years 
since the establishment of the function of Guardianship 
and the inauguration by Shoghi Effendi of the adminis- 
trative framework of the New World Order, the several 
millions of enrolled believers in all the countries of the 
world have been organized into a coherent, steadfast, 
self-sacrificing army which unreservedly accepts these 
commands as of divine origin and is prepared to obey 
them unquestioningly. 

The attention of the thoughtful ones amongst states- 
men, scientists and laymen has been noticeably aroused 
by this unprecedented phenomenon. Year by year this 
accelerated motion is increasing. There is therefore 
plainly to be seen growing up in the midst of a world of 
unrest, confusion and strife; a world of uncertainties and 
planless effort, the actual appearance of a new type of 
manhood; a new conception of government and citizen- 

2 Goal of the New World Order, pp. 20-21. 

220 _ Portals To Freedom _ 

ship; a new vision of the practical possibilities of human 
life upon this planet. 

(7) To whatever cause it may be ascribed it is becom- 
ing increasingly apparent that many, if not all, of the 
teachings of Baha'U'llah are being accepted by the 
broader minds, the wiser statesmen of the world, irrespec- 
tive of their knowledge of the life, or the acceptance of 
the station of their Originator. 

The reader may desire, and is entitled to, a proof of the 
last assertion. Any complete quotations from men uni- 
versally accepted as more or less qualified to speak intel- 
ligently of world affairs would require a large volume. 
The quotations given are only meant to be indicative of 
a trend of modern thought which any wide reading will 

"Cooperation must be the leading thought. Not one 
country only but the world must be organized into one 
commonwealth. National armaments must disappear and 
only a sufficient police force remain to keep order. Those 
countries in which women are most active in public 
affairs are democratic and peace-loving." 

Arthur Henderson, President of the Disarma- 
ment Conference at a dinner given by the 
Women's Organizations of the Consulta- 
tive Group. 

Here two of the commands of Baha'U'llah are sup- 
ported. Almost the exact wording of Baha'UHah's com- 

_ fonals To Freedom _ 221 

mand is used regarding the method to be followed in dis- 
arming. Also Baha'U'llah's Words regarding the station 
of Women in this Day are acknowledged as wise. 

"The liberal scientific research man's eternal search 
for truth in its vast, ever-changing forms cannot be 
too highly encouraged and praised." 

Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden. 

From his address at the Spring Festival, 

Uppsala University. 

This may seem a commonplace to the reader: but when 
it is remembered that when Baha'U'llah first voiced the 
Command that the "Independent investigation of Truth" 
is the first requisite in a divine civilization, such an idea 
was generally unacceptable. When I was a boy an ener- 
getic controversy waged for some years over whether 
Darwin's theory of the Origin of Species could possibly 
be accepted since it seemed to contradict the story of 
man's origin as given in Genesis. And I seem to remem- 
ber that even today a certain State in this enlightened 
country of ours still has a statute quite rigidily enforced, 
which is based not upon whether the theory of evolution 
has an element of truth, but upon whether it can be justi- 
fied by a prejudiced and ignorant interpretation of words 
written some thousands of years ago. Galileo, Roger 
Bacon, Copernicus lived not so long ago and we still have 
with us the Index Expurgatorius. 

222 _ Portals To Freedom _ 

It is an unquestioned fact that prior to the middle of 
the i pth Century the final decision as to what consti- 
tuted Truth was almost exclusively in the hands of ec- 
clesiastics, and the pursuit of science untrammelled was 
difficult, to say the least. Not until Baha'U'llah issued 
His Commands relative to the oneness of science and re- 
ligion did the freedom of the mind attain its birth. Coin- 
cidence if you like, but there it is. 

"The present time is not an economic revolution but 
a spiritual revolution. We, the people of today, are 
passing through the most momentous and far-reaching 
changes that have taken place since the beginning of 
recorded history. Science has made us the undisputed 
masters of all the forces of Nature. There is enough 
grain to feed everybody. There is enough wool to clothe 
everybody. There is enough stone and mortar to house 
everybody. And yet the picture all around us is one 
of vast hopelessness and despair. 

Something therefore must be wrong with the picture! 
That is what we say. Would it not perhaps be a little 
fairer to confess: 'Something is wrong with ourselves?' 

'To have or to be! 1 1 shall submit that terrific sentence 
to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear and that true 
spiritual courage that is the basis of all permanent progress." 
Hendrick Van Loon. "To Have or to Be." 

"It may be that, without freedom from one's self, all 
other freedom is vain. . . Perhaps in the deeper realiza- 
tion of our inevitable brotherhood, perhaps in our in- 
creased awareness of values other than material, there 

Portals To Freedom 223 

may be the germs of a lasting faith by means of which 
the diverse peoples of this nation may be united in a 
common purpose. . . . We need a unifying faith by means 
of which some part of the responsibilities that we are 
now carrying may be lifted from us, in the light of which 
our way may be made clearer before us." 

Margaret Gary Madeira. Atlantic Monthly. 

"No system of human relationships can succeed if 
operated in the attitude and with the intention of mutual 

Any system will succeed if operated in the spirit of 
mutual service; indeed, in this spirit the need of systems 
would disappear." 

Jas. H. Cousins. The Young Builder. 

"In all these spheres the economic, the racial, the 
international, which in many places overlap there are 
signs that the golden age is dawning. It will not come 
automatically. It will come, as reforms have always come, 
because some heroic souls count not their lives dear 
in order that they may translate from the ideal to the 
actual those truths by which Jesus Christ lived and for 
which He died." 

D. G. W. Stafford, of University Temple, 
Seattle, at the Institute of World Affairs. 

"Not only in relation to our physical needs but in 
relation also to our mental needs does our new inter- 
related civilization play a vital part. Spiritually we can- 
not go back to the water-tight divisions, to the narrow 
loyalties, to the little sectarianisms which characterized 
the old way of life. 

224 Portals To Freedom 

A new and wider trail has been blazed; and while 
there will undoubtedly be an occasional loss of direction, 
as there is at the present moment, the trend toward a 
world economy and a planetary consciousness is too 
definitely under way to be permanently reversed. 

Raymond B. Fosdick. Scientific American. 

It would be possible to continue such quotations al- 
most indefinitely, and to cap each one with the definite 
command of Baha'U'llah; but surely any unprejudiced 
mind, after even a cursory study of the writings of Baha- 
'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha, will find innumerable examples 
of the fulfilment of their commands in the daily press, 
current magazines, the announcements from laboratory, 
national council chambers, the work rooms of inventor, 
and mechanic; "Whether we look or whether we listen" 
we see and hear on every hand the fulfilment of Their 
Words, the obedience to Their Commands. 

While 'Abdu'1-Baha was in this country He said to one 
who mourned the conditions prevailing throughout the 
world, then in far less distress than now, that we should 
not be disturbed, that whatever may occur in the future 
we must know always that nothing happens that does not 
forward the Kingdom of Baha'U'llah. His Will is su- 

Speaking in Montclair, N.J., June 23, 1912, 'Abdu'l- 
Baha said: 

Portals To Freedom 225 

"None of the Prophets of God were famous men but 
they were unique in spiritual power. Love is the eternal 
sovereignty. Love is the divine power. By it all the 
kings of the earth are overthrown and conquered. What 
evidence of this could be greater than the accomplish- 
ment of Bahd'U'lldh? He appeared in the East and was 
exiled. He was sent to the prison of 'Akka in Palestine. 
Two powerful despotic kings arose against Him. During 
His exile and imprisonment He wrote Tablets of authority 
to the Kings and rulers of the world, announcing His 
spiritual sovereignty, establishing the religion of God, 
upraising the heavenly banners of the Cause of God." 1 

Again speaking at a dinner in Washington, D.C., April 
22, 1912, only ten days after His arrival in this country, 
He said: 

"Today in this meeting we have an evidence of how 
Baha'U'llah through the power of the Love of God has 
exercised a wonderful spiritual influence throughout the 
world. From the remotest parts of Persia and the Orient 
He has caused men to come to this table to meet with the 
people of the West in the utmost love, affection and 
harmony. Behold how the power of Baha'U'llah has 
brought the East and the West together. And 'Abdu'l- 
Baha is standing, serving you. There is neither rod nor 
blow, whip nor sword; but the power of the Love of 
God has accomplished this." 2 

1 Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. i, p. 206. 

2 Ibid., p. 40. 

226 Portals To Freedom 

The point I am endeavoring to make is this: That 
Baha'U'llah lays claim to a Divine Power which over- 
rules men and nations; that this Power is the power of the 
Love of God; that everything that is happening in this 
world today is evidence of that overruling Power; that 
investigation of the Commands and foresight of Baha- 
'U'llah and His Exemplar compared with the events 
transpiring in the world since 1853 will bear testimony 
to the effectiveness of that Power, and finally, that there 
is unmistakable evidence on every hand; in every quarter 
of the globe; amongst every type of mind and every ac- 
tivity, that world opinion is moving with accelerated mo- 
tion into line with a world order exactly corresponding to 
the plan outlined by Baha'U'llah, promulgated and ex- 
emplified by 'Abdu'1-Baha, and now, at this very moment, 
being organized, administrated and operated by His 
grandson, Shoghi Eff endi, from the international center 
at Haifa, Palestine. 

What, then, is the complete picture of the situation? It 
is beyond the bounds of the human mind to give this 
picture in its fulness, and beyond the limits of this book 
even to portray so much of it as is within these bounds. 
But enough has been pointed out to allow for a brief and 
graphic picture of its essential elements. 

We see a small group numbering several millions of 
souls, scattered in all parts of the world, composed of 
every nation, race and creed, without reservation accept- 
ing Baha'U'llah as the Supreme Law-giver for the world 
organization of a new order of civilization, and ready to 
sacrifice all, even to life itself in His service. Balancing 

Portals To Freedom 227 

this, and working in complete harmony with it, we see 
the League of Nations gradually coming into line with 
these Laws; we see world opinion coming to a realization 
that such laws are indispensable if any true civilization 
is to exist, and we see the framework of that new order 
actually growing rapidly before our very eyes under the 
administration of Shoghi Eff endi. Let him who reads in- 
vestigate with open mind and ask himself whether such a 
movement may with wisdom be neglected. 

To return to the scene on the S. S. Celtic. When 
'Abdu'1-Baha had finished His brief talk He requested all 
present to come to Him that He might take their hands in 
a parting expression of His love. How impressive that 
scene, how filled with a significance beyond words to ex- 
press, how fragrant with an atmosphere of a world far 
removed from the sordid world around us, may only be 

We slowly passed in front of Him. To each He gave a 
handful of the flowers massed near Him of which, by- 
the-way, none remained when He had finished and to 
each He spoke a few words of love and encouragement. 
When my own turn came I again forgot all but His near- 
ness and the overwhelming fact that never again in this 
world would I see Him, or hear that beloved voice. I 
impulsively dropped to a knee, raised His hand with mine 
and placed it upon my head. Never shall I forget the 
relaxation of that arm and hand. It made no move of 
itself. It was a dead weight in my clasp. But His face 
was illumined with transcendent light. 

Here was my final, indelible impression of that su- 

228 Portals To Freedom 

preme humility, evanescence, servitude and love which 
ever characterized His slightest act, and which never 

The friends gathered on the wharf looked up at the 
figure of their Master as the ship slowly moved into the 
river. 'Abdu'1-Baha stood at the rail, His white hair and 
beard moved by the breeze, His erect, majestic figure out- 
lined clearly. In His hand I noticed the rosary which was 
His constant companion. His lips were moving. I could 
easily read tHose lips. "Allah'u' Abha!" "Allah'u* Abha!" 
"God the Most Glorious!" "God the Most Glorious!" 

_ Portals To Freedom _ 229 

Chapter Fifteen 


"If ye believe in Me I will make you the friends of 
My soul in the Realm of My Greatness and the com- 
panions of My Perfection in the Kingdom of My Might 

Bah* 'U'llah. 

IT WAS about two or three months after 'Abdu'l- 
Baha had left America that I came into the realiza- 
tion, a conviction which has never since wavered for an 
instant, of the respective stations of the Bab, as the "First 
Point" of Light on the horizon of the New Day; of Baha- 
'U'llah, "The Glory of God," as the "Manifestation of the 
Lights of the Essence in the Mirror of Names and At- 
tributes," and of His Son, 'Abdu'1-Baha as the Center of 
His Covenant, the divinely appointed exemplar, the per- 
fect Man, whose mission it was to manifest the beauty of 
holiness in the station of perfect servitude to God and 
man "I am the servant of the servants of God." 

Strangely enough this conviction was the direct out- 
come of spiritual service. It became overwhelmingly ap- 

230 Portals To Freedom 

parent that for the first time in my ministry I was able, 
in a deeply transforming manner, to assist souls strug- 
gling in the grasp of temptation, sorrow, perplexity of 
mind and confused with all the intricate problems of life 
and death. 

A spiritual intuition seemed to have been born un- 
doubtedly derived from the sublime Words upon which 
my spirit had been feeding for many months, and still 
more from the personal teachings and example of 'Abdu'l- 
Baha, that gave to those words that poignancy which 
attracted and melted hearts. I suppose the old terminology 
might have used the term: "the gift of the Holy Spirit" 
to describe this marvelous happening. All that I know is 
that it was an entirely new and very humbling experience. 

The teachings and example of 'Abdu'1-Baha colored 
and influenced all relations with my kind. I saw even my 
weak attempts to adapt the teachings I had received to 
the needs of individual souls result so effectually that I 
was filled with a sensation of mingled awe and joy so new, 
so overwhelming, that I was carried as if on a torrent of 
absolute conviction into such an atmosphere of certitude 
that every vestige of my former doubts and uncertainties 
vanished as if they had never been. A Voice whispered 
across the ages in my deepest soul: "Men do not gather 
grapes of thorns, nor figs from thistles." When one sees 
with his own eyes human souls awakened, hearts touched 
with a divine afflatus, lives deeply affected, sorrow trans- 
formed into content, inward strife and turbulence calmed, 
by the Words taken from the prayers and explanations 
of these Divine Ones, and applied like a soothing oint- 
ment to the wounds of the soul, to doubt the Spirit from 

Portals To Freedom 231 

which they emanated would have been to doubt all the 
prophets of the past; would have been to cast discredit 
on the Sermon on the Mount and on all Christian tradi- 
tion. "If this is not of God," I said to myself, "then there 
is no foundation for faith in God. I would rather be 
wrong with this great Faith than seemingly right with all 
the doubters and cavillers in the world." From the very 
depths of my being there came the cry as uttered by the 
firm believers of old: "My Lord and my God!" 

Moreover, in my own life such a new orientation oc- 
curred that all events and circumstances; all thoughts and 
expressions; all people and conversations acquired a new 
significance and a new purport. It seemed as though there 
gradually took shape, underlying the smallest as well as 
the more important events of daily life, a something solid, 
an assurance of it all being well in spite of outward seem- 
ing, which transformed the world. "He had set my feet 
upon a rock and established my going." 

I remember that one of the members of my family 
greeted me one morning, as I entered the room, with the 
surprised ejaculation: "Well, what's the good news?" 
I suppose my face and bearing was that of one who had 
just received the announcement of exceeding good 

The meaning of the Words which I had so often quoted 
in the more or less perfunctory manner of the theologian 
came to me with a novel and striking significance: "Be- 
hold I bring you glad tidings of great joy!" And the 
words of Baha'U'llah expressing this same source of 
supreme happiness: "This is that which is the spring of 
all the gladness of the world." 

232 Portals To Freedom 

But it was undoubtedly the receipt of a third Tablet 
from the Master which completed my subjugation. I 
quote it simply with the prefatory remark that all com- 
munications from 'Abdu'1-Baha are universal and may be 
read by any soul and applied to himself if he fulfills the 
conditions of the sincere seeker. 

"O them my heavenly son: 

Thy letter was received. It was a rose-garden from 
which the sweet fragrances of the love of God were 
inhaled. It indicated that you have held a meeting with 
the utmost joy and fragrance. 

Your aim is the diffusion of the light of guidance; 
the resurrection of the dead hearts, the promotion of the 
oneness of the world of humanity and the elucidation of 
Truth. Unquestionably you will become confirmed therein 
and assisted by the invisible powers. 

I have prayed on thy behalf that thou mayest become 
the minister of the Temple of the Kingdom and the 
herald of the Lord of Hosts; that thou mayest build a 
monastery in heaven and lay the foundation of a convent 
in the Universe of the Placeless; in all thy affairs that 
thou mayest become inspired by the Breaths of the Holy 
Spirit, and that thou mayest become so illumined that 
the eyes of all the ministers be dazzled by thy brilliancy, 
and may long to attain to thy station. 

Thou art always in my memory. I shall never forget 
the days of our meeting. 

Endeavor as much as thou canst that thou mayest 
master the Principles of Baha'lTllah, promulgate them 
all over that continent, create love and unity between 

Portals To Freedom 233 

the believers, guiding the people, awakening the heed- 
less ones and resurrecting the dead. 

Convey on my behalf the utmost longing to all the 
friends of God. 

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious." 
(Signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha Abbas. 

Aside from the apparent fact that this letter was a call, 
a summons, a Trumpet-peal from a higher realm to 
advance to "come along up" the meaning, the inner sig- 
nificance, of some of the phrases used eluded me com- 
pletely at the time and still remain only dimly appre- 

"Assisted by the Invisible Powers" "Minister of the 
Temple of the Kingdom" "A monastery in heaven" 
and a "convent in the Universe of the Placeless" what 
could such strange phrases mean? 

As the years have passed and more and more thoroughly 
I have become impregnated with the Divine Utterances 
of Baha'U'llah and 'Abdu'1-Baha a meaning has emerged, 
elusive yet definite; vague yet alluring beyond words in 
its appeal to the spirit. What if the orchestra is veiled 
behind its screen of divine roses, is the music less entranc- 
ing, or the certainty that there is an orchestra there less 
convincing because of that? 

In order that the reader may inhale the perfume from 
those roses and, perchance, hear with the inner ear the 
strains from that hidden orchestra, let me quote two pas- 
sages from the Words of 'Abdu'1-Baha. 

234 Portals To Freedom 

On April 30th, 1912, He spoke in Chicago, at a meet- 
ing of the Baha'i Temple Unity Convention. From this 
I quote: 

"Among the institutes of the Holy Books is that of 
the foundation of the Divine Temple. This is conducive 
to unity and fellowship among men. The real Temple is 
the very Law of God, for to that all humanity must 
resort, and that is the Point of Unity for all mankind. 
That is the Collective Center. That is the cause of accord 
and unity of the hearts. That is the cause of the solidarity 
of the human race. That is the source of eternal Life. 
Temples are the symbols of that uniting force, in order 
that when people gather there in a given edifice of God, 
in the House and Temple of God, they may recall the 
fact that the Law has been revealed for them and that 
the Law is to unite them. That just as this edifice was 
founded for the unification of mankind, the Law preced- 
ing and creating this Temple was issued therefor." 

Again: 'Abdu'1-Baha wrote to an American believer 
who had asked regarding her membership in a Christian 

"Know thou: in the day of the Manifestation of 
Christ many souls became portionless and deprived be- 
cause they were members of the Holy of Holies in 
Jerusalem. Because of that membership (standing for 
exclusiveness and prejudice) they became veiled from 

Portals To Freedom 235 

His Brilliant Beauty. Therefore turn thy face to the 
Church of God, which consists of divine instructions and 
merciful exhortations. 1 For what similarity is there be- 
tween the church of stone and cement, and the Celestial 
Holy of Holies? Endeavor that thou mayest enter this 
Church of God. Although thou hast given oath to attend 
the (material) church, yet thy spirit is under the 
Covenant and Testament of the spiritual, divine Temple. 
Thou shouldest protect this. The reality of Christ is the 
Words of the Holy Spirit. If thou art able, take a por- 
tion thereof." 

Does not a new significance attend the words of John 
the divine, as he attempted to portray in symbolic words 
the coming of the Kingdom upon earth? "And I saw no 
temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty is the Temple 
of it." "And the City had no need of the sun for the 
Glory of God did lighten it." 

(Let it be remembered that the literal translation of 
the title "Bahi'U'llah" is "the Glory of God.") 

To be a "minister" of the Temple of this Kingdom, 
then, is simply to be an adherent and promulgator of the 
Law of Unity and Love laid down as compulsory upon 
all sincere believers in the One God; to be assisted by the 
"Invisible Powers" is to be surrounded by those eternal 
forces which ever support the courageous warriors for 
Truth; to build a "Monastery in Heaven" and a "Convent 
in the Universe of the Placeless" is to build such spiritual 
fortresses of detachment and severance for the souls of 

1 Italics are mine. 

236 Portals To Freedom 

men that "while living upon the earth they may truly 
be in heaven." 

To be such a minister is the prerogative of every be- 
liever in the Words of God and the sincere follower of 
His Light. What a glorious world this "mound of earth" 
will be when all men attain even to a glimmer of this 

Two months later a fourth Tablet was received which 
again opened Portals to Freedom into a world of increas- 
ing Light and Beauty. 

"O thou my respected son: 

The letter that thou hast written with the utmost love 
became the cause of perfect happiness. Truly, I say, thou 
art striving with heart and soul, to obtain the good 
pleasure of God. It is assured that this blessed intention 
will have great effect. The good intention is like an 
ignited candle whose rays are cast to all parts. Now, praise 
be to God, that thou hast manifested the utmost effort 
so that thou mayest light a candle of guidance in that 
region; plant a tree of the utmost freshness and delicacy 
in the garden of the world of humanity; call the people 
to the divine Kingdom; become the means of the progress 
of intellects and souls; gather the lost sheep under the 
protection of the Real Shepherd; cause the awakening 
of the sleepy ones; bestow health upon those who are 
spiritually sick; enlarge the sphere of human minds; refine 
the moral fibre of the people and direct the wander- 
ing birds to the rose-garden of Reality. 

Rest thou assured that the Eternal Outpouring shall 

Portals To Freedom _ 237 

descend upon thee, and the Confirmations of His Holi- 
ness Baha'U'llah shall encircle thee. 

Convey to all the believers the wonderful 'Abha greet- 

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious." 

(Signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha Abbas 
Mt. Carmel, 
Haifa, Syria, 
March 3ist, 1914. 

Again a Call! Again a summons to dwell and work in a 
higher world! 

There are three of these Commands for as such I have 
always understood and accepted them which partic- 
ularly impressed me at the time, and which ever since 
have been a subconscious influence upon my meditations 
and activities. They are these: "Become the means of the 
progress of intellects and souls." "Enlarge the sphere of 
human minds." "Refine the moral fibre of the people." 

It needs but the most cursory observation of average 
humanity to realize the static nature of its mind, its 
cumbrousness, its inability to move out of its chosen or 
enforced rut. The mental and spiritual "Sphere" in which 
most of us function is a very narrow one. Our horizon is 
limited by our personal interests. True, the student and 
philosopher go beyond this and pigeon-hole their knowl- 
edge and pride themselves upon their "liberality" of view, 
but when it comes to action their horizon also is limited by 
personal considerations. I do not forget the saints and 

238 Portals To Freedom 

heroes of all time who have placed Truth above self, 
family and life. But neither do I forget that the portion of 
such has ever been the stake, the dungeon and the Cross. 
And, alas, it would seem that neither do "the simple ones 
whom men call savants" (as Baha'U'llah so trenchantly 
observes) forget it either. They follow Truth just so far 
as "her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths 
are peace," but hesitate when the finger of scorn points 
or possessions are threatened, or family deserts. 

Far be it from me to criticize or cavil at this funda- 
mental quality of a nature common to us all. I simply 
point out this incontrovertible fact and that this attitude, 
according to the dictum of all the great and holy ones of 
the ages, is due to ignorance. Ignorance of the true nature 
of Life; ignorance of its infinite horizons; ignorance of 
its origins in the unimaginably distant past as well as of 
its equally unimaginable glorious future in "all the worlds 
of God." 

It is this to which 'Abdu'1-Baha refers when He calls 
one to "Become the means of the progress of intellects and 
souls," and "to enlarge the sphere of human minds." 

As to His summons to "refine the moral fibre of the 
people": surely none may doubt the average flaccidity 
of that fibre. Our estimates of any moral issue are almost 
invariably decided by its personal reaction. If we test our 
sense of justice, for instance, by Baha'U'llah's definition: 
"Wert thou to observe justice choose for others that 
which thou choosest for thyself," 2 how many of us would 

2 Words of Wisdom, Bahd'U'Uah. 

Portals To Freedom 239 

measure up? From the automobile driver in an accident 
whose first instinct is to blame the other party, to the 
judge on the bench whose decisions are apt to be colored 
by its political results, all are tarred by the same brush. 
And again the reason is to be found in the limited sphere 
of the mind. Those who do so are simply short-sighted. 
Their horizon is too narrow, too limited by immediate 
considerations, to see clearly the inevitable results. It is 
these results which have plainly been written on the 
pages of all history, the cumulative effects of which have 
now thrown the world into disastrous confusion and 

Surely if ever there were a greater need than this, that 
the moral fibre of the people be refined to a point where it 
shall be cleansed from those elements foreign to man's 
higher and divine nature, and He "stand forth pure and 
unsullied by the dross of selfishness" it would be difficult 
to find. 

The most impressive of the Tablets received from 
'Abdu'1-Baha came to me just about the time of the out- 
break of the World War, early in August of 1914. It is 
as follows: 

"O thou respected personage: 

Thy letter was received. Its perusal imparted to me 
great hopefulness, for from its contents it became mani- 
fest that through the effects of thy entrance into the 
Divine Kingdom thou art progressing day by day. 

When this progress shall become perpetual and con- 
tinual, then thou shalt find the Most Great Center in 
the Universe of God, and shalt clearly behold the Con- 

240 Portals To Freedom 

formations of the Holy Spirit. Thou shalt be baptized 
in the Fountain of Life and shalt be freed from all the 
laws of the world of nature. 

Thou shalt become illumined, merciful, heavenly a 
radiant candle in the world of humanity. 

Endeavor as much as possible to liberate thyself 
wholly from human susceptibilities so that the powers 
of the Kingdom may gain control over thy heart and 
thy spirit to such a degree that although thou art living 
on the face of the earth, yet thou mayest truly be in 
heaven; that although outwardly thou art composed of 
material elements, yet spiritually thou mayest become 
composed of heavenly elements. 

This is the everlasting glory of man! This is the 
eternal sublimity in the world of existence! This is the 
never-ending Life! This is the Spirit incarnated in the 
heart of humanity! 

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious." 

(Signed) 'Abdu'1-Baha Abbas 
Home of 'Abdu'1-Baha, 
Haifa, Syria, 
July 1 6th, 1914. 

It seems impossible to imagine a higher mandate, a more 
provocative appeal, a more stimulating and suggestive 
contrast to ordinary ideals or modes of thought. There 
is a galvanic quality to such phrases as "Find the Most 
Great Center in the Universe of God," "Be freed from 
all the laws of the world of nature," and "Liberate thy- 
self wholly from human susceptibilities." And what shall 
be said regarding the hope emphatically proffered that 

Portals To Freedom 241 

under certain conditions it is possible that the "Powers of 
the Kingdom," those higher Laws and their active ex- 
ponents of a Celestial World, may so "gain control" of 
one's being that he may actually become composed of 
different and holy elements, and may walk this world 
outwardly its denizen but inwardly guided and motivated 
by influences and powers emanating from a far higher 
and more real world. 

It is possible that the reader may consider such ideas 
as fantastic. Nor should that be an incomprehensible at- 
titude unless he has some knowledge of the lives and 
teachings of Baha'U'llah and His Son, and I may empha- 
tically add the lives and martyrdoms of thousands of 
their followers and lovers. 

As for myself: I have seen with my own eyes a Life 
so far above the sort of life lived by the ordinary man 
that any comparison based on its activation by ordinary 
motives is incredible. 'Abdu'1-Baha certainly revolved 
around a "Center" vastly different from the ego- 
centeredness of mankind. He, while outwardly clothed 
in man's habiliments, inwardly was palpably clothed with 
the "characteristics of God." So plainly was He free 
from "all the laws of the world of nature" and liberated 
from captivity to "human susceptibilities" that one could 
not be in the same room with Him and not feel the atmos- 
phere of a higher, calmer, nobler world radiating from 

What, then, shall be our reaction when He calls us to 
join Him in that World of the Spirit? One of only three 
attitudes seems to be possible: (a) He was a visionary, 

Portals To Freedom 

an impractical idealist and not to be taken seriously. 
(b) He was unique in type and capabilities and spoke 
and acted from a background of wisdom and capacity 
unattainable by other men. (c) He was a Herald of a 
World of Reality of which this phenomenal world is like 
an upside-down reflection; a Summoner to all men to 
leave the seeming and live on the plane of the Real; an 
Exemplar to humanity that such an utter alteration of 
orientation is not only possible but imperative if any meas- 
ure of happiness, tranquillity, wisdom and prosperity is 
to be attained. 

Let us examine each of these possibilities, for there are 
no others and we must decide on one of them, unless we 
are willing to dodge the issue entirely and refuse to think. 

(a) 'Abdu'l-Baha's whole life contradicted this assump- 
tion that He was a visionary, an impractical idealist. 
When He addressed the student body at Leland Stanford 
University He was introduced by its president, David 
Starr Jordan, in these words: " 'Abdu'1-Baha will surely 
unite the East and the West for He treads the mystical 
'way ^with practical feet." He was a successful business 
man and was often consulted by other men, not believers 
by the way, as to the conduct of their businesses. One 
of His outstanding characteristics was a calm judgment 
in all material affairs; a poise in dealing with men and 
occasions of all kinds unrivaled by the most astute of 
captains of industry. He has been known to go into the 
kitchen and prepare a meal for His guests. He never failed 
in such small attentions as seeing that the room where 
His visitors were entertained contained every possible 

Portals To Freedom 243 

comfort, though He paid no attention to His own 

In short, the slightest investigation into the facts will 
force the conclusion that our first hypothesis is untenable. 

(b) That He was possessed of powers more than 
human and therefore we could not be expected to be like 
Him. This is the easy explanation. It is the "alibi" so often 
used by those who demand an excuse for the discrepancy 
between their ideals and actions. The modern term for 
this kind of thing is "rationalizing." 

The difficulty of accepting it is that by its acceptance 
we automatically reject the teachings and example of all 
the great souls of the past and present. To those bred in 
the Christian tradition it means the placing of the Christ 
in the category of an unapproachable perfection and pay 
no regard to His constant reiteration of the necessity for 
"walking in His way," "loving one another as I have 
loved you," "taking up one's cross daily and following 
Me." It is also to disregard the philosophies of the noblest 
of mankind who make no claims to divine authority. 
Such men as Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, 
Emerson, and countless others whose lives have proven 
the possibility of approximating deeds to words. 

And worst of all results from such a decision, or so it 
seems to the writer at least, is the degrading corollary 
that man's progress has ceased; that the present condition 
of the world, which is due to man's disregard of, and 
unbelief in, any such world as 'Abdu'1-Baha intimates in 
the above Tablet, is the normal and unchangeable condi- 
tion. It means that the "laws of the world of nature" are 

244 Portals To Freedom 

irrevocable; that it is man's proper state for him "to be 
red in tooth and claw with ravin"; that there is no destiny 
beyond the grave and consequently no higher world of 
activity for which to prepare. 

No! To me this is an unthinkable, a monstrous conclu- 

Let us examine without prejudice the third hypothesis, 
namely, that Baha'U'llah came into the world as the latest 
of the long line of Revelators of the Divine Will for the 
express purpose of opening to men the world of Reality; 
to focus the attention of men upon a type of life, a sphere 
of activity which heretofore has remained more or less 
in the background of men's effective energies, and that 
His Son, 'Abdu'1-Baha, is the living proof of man's ability 
to live and move and work in that World of Reality and 
thus build in actuality that Kingdom on earth which 
Jesus told us to expect and for which He commanded 
us to petition. 

To this writer such an hypothesis is not only satisfying 
but supremely rational and understandable. That there is 
such a sphere of action (which is what is meant by the 
term "World") is abundantly demonstrated not only by 
the peaks of humanity but in varying degrees by every 
human soul. Man's selfishness ("that strange disease," as 
'Abdu'1-Baha designates it) has heretofore clouded that 
World, but within the last half -century more and more 
Its Light has shone. Our Red Cross society, our Inter- 
national Peace organizations, The League of Nations, 
even our Community Chests, are demonstrating its 
existence and influential power. 

Baha'U'llah has simply called all men to make that 

_ Portals To Freedom _ 245 

sphere of action the realm in which they shall constantly 
and consciously move, speak and act. In effect He says 
to us: "You have tried it in a small degree, why not extend 
it to embrace every detail of life?" 

In order that this may be accomplished, is it not plain 
that guidance is necessary? This complex world is very 
sick. It is dying from lack of a skilled physician. Its disease 
is so complicated, so affecting every part and organ, and 
the attending physicians the statesmen, moralists and 
idealists so ignorant of the underlying causes, that im- 
minent dissolution is impending. Shall we come to the 
despairing conclusion that there is no wise Physician? 
Shall we supinely acquiesce that this dissolution is as- 
sured, and stand with watch in hand at the bedside of the 
dying patient awaiting the inevitable hour? Or shall we, 
possibly as a last desperate resort, if our faithless souls so 
wish to call it, turn to One who at least lays claim to 
ability to diagnose and prescribe? One who declares over 
and over again in Words of matchless power and elo- 
quence His Divine Power to heal? From many such I 

"That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign 
remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the 
world is the union of all its peoples in one universal 
Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be 
achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all- 
powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, 
and all else is naught but error." 

Gleanings from the writings of Baha'U'llah, p. 255. 8 

8 Promulgation of Univ. Peace, Vol. i, p. 17. 

246 Portals To Freedom 

And 'Abdu'1-Baha says: 

"The body of the human world is sick. Its remedy 
and healing will be the oneness of the kingdom of 
humanity. Its life is 'The Most Great Peace.' Its illumina- 
tion and quickening is love. Its happiness is the attainment 
of spiritual perfections. It is my hope that through the 
bounties and favors of the Blessed Perfection (one 'of 
the titles of Baha'U'llah) we may find a new life, acquire 
a new power and attain to a wonderful and supreme 
source of energy so that the 'Most Great Peace' of divine 
intention shall be established upon the foundation of the 
unity of the world of men with God." 

And not only does Baha'U'llah claim the ability to 
diagnose and heal, but also the Supreme Authority to 
command, to lead, to conquer. 

"O kings of the earth! The Most Great Law hath been 
revealed in this spot, this scene of transcendent splendor. 
Every hidden thing hath been brought to light, by virtue 
of the Will of the Supreme Ordainer, He who hath 
ushered in the Last Hour, and every irrevocable decree 

"Ye are but vassals, O kings of the earth! He who 
is the King of kings hath appeared, arrayed in His most 
wondrous Glory, and is summoning you unto Himself, 
the Help in peril, the Self-Subsisting." 

Baha'U'llah to the rulers. 
Gleanings from the writings of Baha'U'llah, p. 21. 

P rta } s To Freedom 247 

Never in all the history of the Prophets of the past 
have such tremendous affirmations been made, such Divine 
Authority been claimed, such power demonstrated. And 
let us not forget that for forty years this sublime One bore 
the persecutions and tortures of cruel kings and priests; 
that He lived to see thousands of His devoted believers 
suffer the same fate, even unto death; that throughout all 
of this long period never did He cease proclaiming His 
Divine Mission with an inflexible determination and an 
unconquerable Majesty which humbled in the end even 
His worst enemies. Let those who have shed one drop of 
blood in upholding their ideal of Truth be the first 

To those who see "with the eye of God," who possess 
that spiritual vision without which we are as "those who 
having eyes see not," is revealed that World of Reality 
whose "Most Great Center" is the Manifestation of God 
in this great Day of His Revelation. 

We have been revolving around such limited centers, 
such petty interests, that our horizons have been circum- 
scribed to such an extent that it is all but impossible for 
us to conceive a "Most Great Center" attaining to which 
we view the "Universe of God" spread before our won- 
dering eyes, and scan a "Supreme Horizon" including all 
the sons of men; in the Light of which, the Glory of 
which, all problems are solved, all flames of strife extin- 
guished in that unity and love which is the basis of the 
Laws of the universe. 4 

4 See Baha'i Scriptures, p. 435. 

248 _ Portals To Freedom _ 

Nevertheless, the Christs of the ages, the Guides and 
Leaders of mankind, have ever insisted on the reality, the 
supremacy of this Divine World. Let such as are men of 
courage and action obey and follow them! 

In September of 1916, when the World War was at 
its height, and communication between the Orient and 
Occident was difficult, I received a postal-card from the 
secretary of 'Abdu'1-Baha, containing His final Tablet to 
me. It was not signed by Him and the original has not 
yet come to my hand, so I transcribe the postal-card as 
I received it so that the record may be complete. 

Haifa, Syria, 
June zzd, 1916. 
"My dear brother in the Cause of humanity: 

The reports of your services, your travels and lectures 
are most stimulating to the friends in the Holy Land 
and conducive to the happiness of the heart of 'Abdul- 
Baha. He loves you and prays for your spiritual success 
and prosperity. He has revealed a wonderful Tablet in 
your name, the translation of which is the following: 

O thou speaker in the Temple of the Kingdom! 

Praise be to God that most of the time thou 
art traveling, going from city to city raising the 
melody of the Kingdom in meetings and churches, 
and announcing the glad-tidings of Heaven. 

It is recorded in the Gospel that John the 
Baptist was crying in the wilderness: "Prepare ye 
the way of the Lord, make His Paths straight, 
for the Kingdom of God is at hand." 

Standing Before His Home, Haifa, Palestine 

Portals To Freedom 249 

He was crying in the wilderness, but thou art 
crying in populous cities. Although the ministers 
have brilliant crowns on their heads, yet it is 
my .hope that thou mayest crown thy head with 
the diadem of the Kingdom such a diadem 
whose brilliant jewels may illuminate the dark 
passages of future centuries and cycles. 

God says in His great Book, Qur'an, "He 
especializes with His Mercy whomsoever He 
willeth." That is, God distinguisheth with His 
favor and bestowal a number of souls and marks 
them with His own seal of approval. A similar 
statement is revealed in the Gospel: "Many are 
called but few are chosen." Now, praise be to 
God that thou art one of those "few." 

Appreciate thou the value of this bounty, and 
occupy thy time as much as thou canst in the 
diffusion of the fragrances of God." 

Upon thee be greetings and praise. 

(Signed) 'Adu'1-Baha* Abbds. 

250 Portals To Freedom 

Chapter Sixteen 

"The holy Manifestations of God come into the world 
to dispel the darkness of the animal, or physical, nature 
of man, to purify him from his imperfections, in order 
that his heavenly and spiritual nature may become 
quickened, his divine qualities awakened, his perfections 
visible, his potential powers revealed and all the virtues 
of the world of humanity latent within him may come 
to life." 


SO here is the story. Not what it should be as an at- 
tempt towards the portrayal of what, to me, has 
seemed the perfect life, but so far as the influence which 
that Life has had upon my own, it has been unreserved. 
For eight months that Figure moved before me. In spite 
of the 25 years that have elapsed, still is it distinct and 
vital. Memory has pictures which words may never paint. 
However sadly incomplete and inadequate the endeavor 
to portray that Life may be, it has been a great happiness 
to make the attempt. I lay it before the reader with sincere 
humility and love. 
How could such a picture be complete? The brief span 

Portals To Freedom 251 

of years which we dare to speak of as "life" is so confused 
with details foreign to the true issues involved that when 
there enters upon this scene One who lives with calm 
assurance in a World in which confusion is unknown, 
yet who understands the turmoil of men's hearts and 
knows the remedy, how could it be possible for one still 
in that anarchy of thought and action adequately to por- 
tray Him who brings illumination? How draw the picture 
graphically? How make others see and hear as He did? 

To me there is only one way in which that Life may 
even feebly be understood. An assumption must be made 
and a clear-cut conviction arrived at. This may be simply 
stated. It is this: 

The world of phenomena, the "contingent world," the 
world as ordinarily accepted, is not the real world. Tin 
life we live from day to day with its monotonous round 
of eating and drinking; its sleeping and waking hours; 
its routine of work, play, study, birth and death; its varie- 
ties of poverty and wealth, of learned and ignorant, of 
powerful and weak all this is a mask hiding the face of 
Reality. The endless attempts to solve the riddle clothed 
in high-sounding titles Philosophy, Education, Science, 
Statesmanship are all a species of groping in the dark. 

Life does not "begin at 40," it begins in God. We do 
not "live on 24 hours a day"; "In Him we live and move 
and have our being," and ages of preparation precede 
this little "life," and ages to come are its fulfillment. 

Scholasticism provides no answer to the demands of 
men for a satisfaction of those primal needs of the spirit. 

252 Portals To Freedom 

Religion, as generally understood being, as it is, a mix- 
ture of tradition, social convention, and more or less cor- 
rect estimates of the immediate problems confronting the 
people, and all savored with a salt which has lost its savor 
provides no satisfaction to the hungry souls of men. In 
all this confusion of thought and action no rock is found 
upon which man may plant his spiritual feet and be con- 
fident in his treading. 

If this is not the real world where is it? What is it? 
How find it? As I have intimated, the answer is plain 
enough to those who are not entirely "submerged in the 
sea of materialism." Most of mankind may be likened to 
a man lost in a London fog so that the well-known way 
to his own door is blotted out. The fog which blinds our 
spiritual vision is composed of the "selfish disorders, intel- 
lectual maladies, spiritual sicknesses, imperfections and 
vices" which surround us and hold us in thralldom. The 
Prophets of God, the Will and Love of God enshrined in 
the temple of man, have brought the Light of the Sun 
of Reality which alone can dissipate the fog, place man 
upon the right path and free him from that thralldom. 

The Eternal Christ coming to the aid of distracted 
humanity about once in every thousand years alone is the 
Portal to Freedom. Ever to the keen of vision, the quick 
of hearing, the possessors of heart, His Divine Voice call- 
ing to enter, His loving hands pointing and assisting, have 
been apparent. 

Portals To Freedom 253 

Again, in this Day in which we live our little span of 
years, has the latest of these "Sign-Posts" to the Path de- 
clared His Mission and issued His Call. 

It was my inestimable privilege to watch and talk with, 
for a period of eight months, the Son of Baha'U'llah, the 
Center of His Covenant, the perfect exemplar of His 
Word and Life; the One by whom "He hath caused to 
appear the traces of the Glory of His Kingdom upon the 

Here I saw a man who, outwardly, like myself, lived in 
the world of confusion, yet, inwardly, beyond the pos- 
sibility of doubt, lived and worked in that higher and 
real world. All His concepts, all His motives, all His 
actions, derived their springs from that "World of 
Light." And, which is to me a most inspiring and en- 
couraging fact, He took it for granted that you and I, the 
ordinary run-of-the-mill humanity, could enter into and 
live and move in that world if we would. 

To those who have read this chronicle with the "eye 
of heart" some glimmer of conviction may have come 
that such a world is open to them, such a life may be 
approximated for themselves, such a portal may be en- 
tered by their feet, such a freedom be attained. It is with 
this hope that my story has been told. 

January 7, 1937.